On Thursday, after special security forces found the son of the narcotics kingpin El Chapo, gunfights between Mexican police and drug cartel members rocked the northwestern city of Culiacan.
Authorities arrested a man who recognized himself as Ovidio Guzman Lopez as well as three additional people in a house in Culiacan by Mexico’s National Guard and the Secretariat of National Defense, the head of Mexico’s Department of Public Safety and Protection, Alfonso Durazo, told.
Durazo told 30 members of the National Guard and the army took the decision to suspend operation after being fired upon and outnumbered by heavily armed gunmen in a house where they had found Ovidio Guzman.
Ovidio Guzman has been accused of distributing narcotics for the Sinaloa cartel. His father was imprisoned for life in the United States.
The government of Sinaloa state requested people not to go out into the streets and to be very alert to official warnings regarding the growth of these events. Security forces have not, however, verified that the battle was a direct consequence of the arrest of El Chapo’s son.
Culiacan, which is home to El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel, testified hours of gunfire and chaos, during which civilians were forced to run for cover on suburban streets or hide in the aisles of supermarkets. Burning vehicles hindered the entrances to the city which made it hard for police to move.
In videos of the incident uploaded on social media, cartel gunmen were revealed as roaming the city in trucks with machine guns and other high-caliber weapons. Videos also revealed a burning gas station and vehicles set on fire.
Prisoners escaped from Culiacan de Aguaruto prison during the fighting. Video footage revealed around 20 people running in the streets but it is not clear how many prisoners escaped during the shootout and how many were recaptured.
While numbers of police officers were hurt in the battle, state police told there were no verified deaths yet.
Sinaloa’s football club Dorados declared that it had dropped its game that day due to security threats.
Joaquin Guzman Loera, better known as El Chapo, came to be considered one of the world’s most powerful narcotics traffickers.
While in prison, his sons Ovidio Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo Guzman, identified as “los Chapitos,” supposed leadership of the Sinaloa cartel together with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a former partner of El Chapo.
El Chapo first fled from prison in January 2001 but was recaptured in February 2014. After only 17 months, he did yet another escape from a maximum-security prison. For a third time, the cartel leader was captured in 2016 and a year later was extradited to the United States.