10/11/2016 (written by lcalderon) — During the dawn hours of September 30th, a military convoy was ambushed by a heavily armed group of organized crime members. The convoy was in charge of transporting Julio Oscar Ortiz Vega, a.k.a. “El Kevin”, from a small town in Badiraguato to Culiacán, both in Sinaloa, Mexico. “El Kevin” was an organized crime member and an alleged cousin of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was injured during an earlier shootout between drug cartels and the military in Badiraguato. After arresting him, military personnel provided medical assistance and decided to take him to a hospital in Culiacán, the capital city of the state of Sinaloa. The transfer was planned during the middle of the night to assure the detainee’s security.
The military escort was taken by surprise around 3:00 am on the international highway, Mexico 15, by a large group of criminals who were awaiting them with large caliber arms, grenades, and other explosives. During the confrontation, four military men died at the location and 11 were severely injured, including the paramedic who was in charge of assisting “El Kevin” in the ambulance. The criminals were successful in their mission and managed to take the ambulance with “El Kevin” inside. The injured individuals had to wait for almost an hour for aid and were then relocated to different hospitals in the state. Two of the survivors died later that day in the hospital.
After the attack, the Secretary of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) launched a major operation in Culiacán to capture the attackers. The operation led to the securing of large caliber arms, ammunitions, tactical suits, federal police badges, bulletproof vests, and other equipment linked to the organized crime unit but no arrest directly related to the attack.
Initially, Alfonso Duarte Mujica, Major of the 9th Military Zone in Sinaloa declared that the ambush was linked to Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s sons Ivan and Alfredo Guzmán, who are now suspects of being fighting for control of the Sinaloa cartel. However, the accused went to their father’s lawyer, José Refugio Rodríguez to declare that they were not involved with the attack and requested an accurate and thorough investigation of the events. According to Milenio, the brothers declared “If we didn’t do it for our father, much less would we do it now!” when responding to the accusations.
Duarte Mujica’s allegations became even stronger when police started to believe that “El Kevin” was a cover up for the person who was in the ambulance that night. Sinaloa police started to suspect that the actual person in that ambulance was Aureliano Guzmán Loera “El Guano,” “El Chapo” Guzmán’s brother. Later, Mexico’s General Attorney’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República) and SEDENA released pictures of “El Kevin” before his rescue. In addition, media sources such as Mexico Rojo discarded the idea that “El Guano” was in that ambulance on September 30th.
Although not proven, Duarte Mujica’s allegations were not completely unreasonable. Badiraguato is a region in the Mexican state of Sinaloa that saw the birth of Mexico’s most famous drug kingpin: Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Guzmán was one of the founders of the strongest drug cartel –until recently- in Mexico, with its headquarters in Culiacán, Sinaloa. After the last arrest of “El Chapo” Guzmán, Sinaloa has become a warzone between his sons Iván and Alfredo Guzmán Salazar defending what is left of the Sinaloa cartel against their cousin Alfredo Beltrán Guzmán “El Mochomito” on the side of the Beltran Leyva cartel. The territorial dispute between the two cartels has unleashed a spike of violence in Sinaloa, especially in Culiacán.