Intense fighting has erupted in the Mexican city of Culiacán, where masked gunmen threw up burning barricades and traded gunfire with security forces after authorities arrested one of the sons of the jailed former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Mexico’s security minister, Alfonso Durazo, said a patrol by National Guard militarised police first came under attack from within a house in the city, 600 km (370 miles) northwest of Mexico City.
After entering the house, they arrested Ovidio Guzmán López, who is accused of drug trafficking in the United States.
However, the patrol was quickly overpowered by cartel gunmen, and the decision was taken to withdraw to protect the lives of the National Guard and restore calm in the city, where gangsters had set up roadblocks and were unleashing heavy automatic gunfire, Durazo said.
Images shared on social media showed trucks with mounted heavy machine guns patrolling the city streets. Another clip showed a gunman with an assault rifle shooting at an unknown target against a soundtrack of continuous gunfire.
Detienen al hijo de El Chapo Guzmán, Iván Archibaldo Guzmán, lo que está ocasionando una fuerte balacera en #Culiacán #Sinaloa en esta ciudad pic.twitter.com/MjqqLsu3sx
October 17, 2019Local media had reported that at least one of the main roads out of the city towards the port of Mazatlán had been blocked by a barricade of burning trucks, while others were closed by the army.
Photographs were circulating on social media purporting to show Ovidio in detention in a light blue shirt, with what appeared to be religious medallions around his neck.
“The decision was taken to retreat from the house, without Guzman to try to avoid more violence in the area and preserve the lives of our personnel and recover calm in the city,” Durazo said.
Juan Pablo Pérez Díaz (@PerezDiazMX)Así las cosas al norte de #Culiacán. Momentos exactos de la balacera captados por el compañero reportero Policiaco, Ernesto Martínez. pic.twitter.com/o53uBLqCWr
October 17, 2019Thursday’s shootouts initially prompted rumours that they were triggered by the arrest of Iván Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, another of Chapo’s sons. It’s unclear if he was detained.
The 28-year-old Ovidio Guzmán López is one of four children from Chapo’s second marriage. He is named together with his elder brother, Joaquín Guzmán López, in an indictment related to cocaine trafficking released by the US Department of Justice in February this year.
Chapo Guzmán had two other wives and at least six more children.
The murder of 22-year-old Edgar Guzmán López in a Culiacan parking lot May 2008 sparked a major turf war between Chapo and his former allies from the Beltrán Leyva cartel that raged for years.
The Sinaloa public security secretary, Cristóbal Castañeda, told Milenio TV that as well as roving shootouts and barricades, the chaos included a mass jailbreak of between 20 and 30 inmates.
“We are inviting people to get off the streets until we have re-established control of the city,” he said.
Guzmán, whose cartel was once billed as the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world, was sentenced to life in prison by a US federal court in January.
Over the course of decades in the business, the 62-year-old had been arrested three times – twice in Mexico and once in Guatemala – and managed to make two spectacular escapes from high-security Mexican jails.
Mexico after El Chapo: new generation fights for control of the cartel Read moreChapo’s second arrest in 2014 took place in the port city of Mazatlán without a shot being fired. He was in the company of his third wife and their two baby daughters at the time.
Two of the drug lord’s eldest sons, Iván and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, have appeared to lead the family’s bid to retain control of the cartel after his final downfall began with his third arrest in January 2016.
Both sons were reportedly kidnapped in August of that year from a swanky restaurant in the Pacific resort city of Puerto Vallarta by the Sinaloa cartel’s then up and coming rival the New Generation Jalisco Cartel. Officials only ever confirmed the abduction and release a week later of Jesús Alfredo.
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