MEXICO CITY - The son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman may be 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.
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.
But prosecutors later clarified in a statement that six men were abducted by a squad of seven armed assailants.
Jalisco Attorney General Eduardo Almaguer told Radio Formula that "it is presumed," though not yet certain, that Ivan Archivaldo Guzman was among the kidnapped men.
Experts say Ivan Archivaldo assumed control of parts of his father's business after he was re-arrested in January.
Authorities have been taking fingerprints from the scene, viewing video images and checking identifications related to five vehicles — some luxury models — left behind by the victims at the restaurant.
Almaguer said "several of them [the victims] had false identities," which complicated efforts to determine who they were.
He said the abduction was the work of a "criminal group" that operates in the area, and while he would not identify the gang by name, the largest group operating in the state is the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
The Jalisco cartel has grown quickly to rival Guzman's Sinaloa cartel as the most powerful of Mexico's drug gangs.
Experts say there could be other reasons why someone would want to kidnap the younger Guzman. Ivan Archivaldo had reportedly been running roughshod over allies in his father's business.
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, said that while Jalisco New Generation controls the area, it would be possible for another group to enter the city.
Hope also 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.