The man arrested to much hoopla in Mexico last week is not the son of the country’s most wanted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera after all.
On Thursday, the Mexican navy paraded for the cameras a man they believed to be Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, the son of Sinaloa drug cartel’s leader Joaquin Guzman. According to BBC’s Will Grant, reporting from Mexico City, doubts about the official account of the events surfaced within hours of the arrest.
Identity tests showed that the arrested man is actually Felix Beltran Leon – a car salesman with no ties to the Guzman family or the Sinaloa cartel. Beltran’s family provided documentary evidence of his identity. His half brother, Kevin Daniel Beltran Rios, was also arrested and misidentified as a Sinaloa cartel member.
El Chapo has been on the run since 2001, when he escaped from a maximum security prison in Jalisco, Mexico, to avoid extradition to the US. He was serving a sentence of 20 years and nine months for drug trafficking in Mexico, and he is wanted by the United States on murder and drug-related charges.
The US Department of State has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to El Chapo’s arrest, and the US Department of Treasury called him “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker.” Mexico has offered another $2 million.
El Chapo was featured in Forbes magazine’s 2009 World’s Most Powerful People list at No. 41 - one step ahead of a man the media describe as “the scariest person on Earth” and the Russian “Darth Vader,” former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.