A major gunfight occurred on December 26 between elements of the Mexican navy and drug traffickers in Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s hometown of Badiraguato, Sinaloa state. Some reports indicate military aircraft sustained minor damage, but two cartel attackers were killed and firearms, ammunition, and four and a half tons of marijuana were seized.
According to Mexico News Daily, the navy has been patrolling that area—which happens to be Guzmán’s birthplace—since the massacre of 12 men there on December 12. The aircraft that were hit were two army helicopters called in to provide support to naval ground forces under attack by traffickers.
The Washington Post reported that the seized marijuana had been packaged for shipment. Due to the location of the seizure, the marijuana likely belonged to the Sinaloa cartel. The report did not indicate if the military forces sustained any casualties, and the navy did not specify what kind of patrol was being conducted.
Mexican military and police forces have been fervently hunting for Guzmán since he escaped from a high security prison in July 2015, only 16 months after being recaptured in the Mexican resort city of Mazatlan. Earlier this year, authorities were searching for Guzmán in the mountainous regions of Sinaloa state not far from Badiraguato. Some reports at the time stated Guzmán had narrowly averted capture.
Rumors of Guzmán’s whereabouts have flourished since his escape placing him in Costa Rica, Brazil, and even Spain. Several weeks ago, news reports stated a vehicle transporting his daughter’s pet monkey was stopped en route from Mexico City to Sinaloa state, providing authorities with clues as to his possible location. All airports have been on high alert for signs Guzmán may be trying to leave the country, but high levels of corruption among security forces in Mexico has cast much doubt over the country’s ability to truly keep Guzmán from fleeing to an international destination.
Sylvia Longmire is a service-disabled veteran, border security expert, and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.