MEXICO: The detention of Ovidio Guzmán, the son of drug lord Joaqun “El Chapo,” by Mexican authorities sparked a violent reaction from cartel gunmen in the northern city of Culiacán.
Shooters opened fire on security personnel after a violent night, blocking roads with burning cars and firing at army helicopters and police planes delivering reinforcements to the city.
After Guzmán’s arrest early on Thursday, a prominent player in the Sinaloa cartel since his father’s arrest, intense combat reportedly continued for hours, according to a local.
The resident said, “They caught him at about 4 am, and since then, the shooting hasn’t stopped. It’s been a real mess – they’re shooting up in the air to bring down the [police] helicopters. The whole town is a mess.”
According to reports, cartel members also kidnapped medical professionals from hospitals to treat their injured compatriots, intimidated journalists and stole press cars.
Guzmán was briefly detained by security personnel in 2019; however, he was soon freed following a violent backlash from the gang. This incident caused significant embarrassment for president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration.
His capture comes only days before a summit of North American leaders that will take place in Mexico City the following week and that Joe Biden will attend. Security issues will be discussed at this summit.
Before Biden’s arrival, one of the Mexican officials predicted that Guzmán’s arrest would strengthen US-Mexico security collaboration.
For information that resulted in Guzmán’s capture or conviction, the United States offered a $5 million reward.
Pressure on Mexico to take action against the groups, like the Sinaloa cartel, in charge of making and distributing the drug has intensified due to an increase in overdose deaths in the United States caused by the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Guzmán’s arrest, in the opinion of Tomás Guevara, a security expert at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, helps Mexican law enforcement recover its dignity after the humiliation of having to release El Chapo’s kid in 2019.
“The detention of Ovidio is finally the culmination of something that was planned three years ago,” he remarked.
It might also signal a change in policy from the government, Guevara noted, following allegations that López Obrador had softened his stance against the cartels, which he rejected, from numerous security professionals.
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