Mexico City. A Mexican man captured and paraded by the military before the media is not the son of Sinaloa drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman as authorities first believed, prosecutors said Friday.
Prosecutors said in a statement that “after performing the tests needed to ascertain their identity,” the suspects in custody were Felix Beltran Leon — not Jesus Alfredo Guzman as first reported — and Kevin Daniel Beltran.
An official with the US Drug Enforcement Administration who asked not to be identified told AFP that Beltran Leon was in fact a “top drug lieutenant” to Guzman’s son.
Beltran Leon was paraded before the media with great fanfare on Thursday, and a spokesman for Mexico’s navy said he was “one of the main leaders of the Sinaloa cartel and a key element of the criminal organization.”
Earlier Friday, a woman in Guadalajara identified as Elodia Leon tearfully told reporters that the man presented on Thursday as the younger Guzman was in fact Beltran Leon, and that her son was not related to the infamous drug lord.
As the billionaire head of the Sinaloa cartel, the elder Guzman has a $5 million reward on his head in the United States and has long sparred with US and Mexican authorities.
His son, known as “El Gordo,” is wanted by the United States under an extradition request dating back to 2009.
The 26-year-old and his wife Alejandrina Salazar were placed on a US list of Sinaloa cartel operatives last year. In May, the US Treasury Department froze the assets of the fugitive kingpin’s sons Ivan and Ovidio, barring Americans from doing business with them.
The Treasury Department said the sons played “a significant role” in the elder Guzman’s drug trafficking activities.
Since escaping from a western Mexican prison in 2001, “El Chapo” — which translates as “Shorty” — has become one of the world’s most powerful drug traffickers and richest men.
During his decade on the run, his Sinaloa cartel has moved from relatively low-key drug trafficking operations to controlling large swathes of Mexican territory, while it continues its bloody turf battles with rival gangs.
But while Guzman has eluded capture or death, one of his brothers was killed in a Mexican jail in Dec. 2004 and a son was killed in a Culiacan shopping center in May 2008.
His organization’s reach extends deep into Latin America and Europe.
President Felipe Calderon’s ruling National Action Party has lost popular support in the wake of brutal drug violence that has killed over 50,000 people since Dec. 2006 and has turned parts of the country into war zones.