The son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was among the half-dozen men abducted by a squad of gunmen at a restaurant in the Mexican beach resort of Puerto Vallarta, authorities said Tuesday.
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Authorities in the western state of Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, earlier said that 10 to 12 men had been kidnapped from the upscale restaurant, based on the confused nature of the evidence at the crime scene. Some women who were with the abducted men at the restaurant weren’t taken, and one person who had been dining with the group left just moments before the abduction.
Jalisco state Attorney General Eduardo Almaguer says authorities have confirmed the identities of four of the six victims and among them was 29-year-old Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar. He says the identification was made through items found in the vehicles and forensic work at the scene.
Almaguer says the kidnappers appear to belong to the state’s dominant Jalisco New Generation drug cartel and the victims are from the rival Sinaloa cartel.
Meanwhile, the city’s tourism promoters scrambled to reassure tourists that the kidnapping was an isolated incident and that activities for visitors continued without interruption.
Almaguer told a news conference Monday that the victims “were not tourists or residents who work in legal activities … they were people tied to a criminal group we can very clearly presume.”
Almaguer said two SUVs carrying five gunmen arrived around 1 a.m. at La Leche restaurant on Puerto Vallarta’s main boulevard, which runs through the hotel zone lying between the old beach city and the airport.
He said some of those abducted had been vacationing in Puerto Vallarta for a week and the group that was targeted appeared to be celebrating, according to other people in the restaurant. Authorities found lots of drinks and luxury items inside the restaurant. Five vehicles were abandoned at the restaurant, among them one with Jalisco license plates but a false registration.
Alejandro Hope, a Mexico City-based security analyst, called it odd that a group of alleged cartel members would be taken without a shot being fired.
“It’s a bit surprising that in effect they were drug traffickers but didn’t have any security,” Hope said.
Jalisco Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval said on his official Twitter account that such violence would not be tolerated.
“To the residents and tourists of Puerto Vallarta, I inform you that we have reinforced security so that you can go on as usual,” Sandoval wrote.
Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman contributed to this report.