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Sat June 23, 2012
Captured Man Isn't El Chapo's Son, So Who'll Get The Blame?
Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 1:45 am
On Thursday, the Mexican Navy triumphantly presented a man it said was the son of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Today, both Mexican and U.S. authorities are pointing at each other for misidentifying the man who was captured.
The man's name is Felix Beltran Leon, 23, a car salesman, and not Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, the Mexican Attorney General's Office confirmed on Friday, saying "necessary tests" had proved he wasn't the drug lord's son.
The man known as El Chapo is the chief of the Sinaloa drug cartel, the most-wanted trafficker of one of Mexico's largest crime organizations. Just this month the U.S. Treasury Department identified Guzman Salazar as a key operative in his father's business, allegedly helping to smuggle drugs into the United States.
While the photo released by the Treasury Department may bear a passing resemblance, Beltran's wife, mother and lawyer provided evidence to the contrary, including voting credentials, a driver's license and childhood photos, as the AP reports. On Friday, Mexico's Attorney General's Office said the original identifying information came from the U.S.
The DEA, on the other hand, claims otherwise, says the AP:
"'The Mexican Navy and Mexican law enforcement have said this is El Chapo's son and that's what we took,' said DEA spokesman Rusty Payne, noting that the DEA is working separately to confirm the man's identity."
Beltran's wife tells the AP that her husband was arrested with his half-brother when Mexican Marines kicked in the door of their home in Guadalajara. The Washington Post reports:
"U.S. law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was confusion about who was in the house the Mexicans raided and that it appears it was not Chapo's son."
While embarrassing for both countries, the political fallout may be realized July 1 when Mexicans vote for their next president. Current President Felipe Calderon's aggressive policies against Mexico's drug violence have been heavily criticized, and as Reuter's notes, his party's successor candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, is running third in most polls.