Intense gunfight breaks out as cartel force police to drop arrest of drug lord ‘El Chapo’s’ son

Samuel Osborne
Armed groups and federal forces clashed for hours in Culiacan, Mexico: EPA/LUIS GERARDO MAGANA

Intense fighting broke out between heavily armed fighters and security forces in the capital of Mexico‘s Sinaloa state after the National Guard located one of Joaquin “El Chapo“ Guzman’s sons, who is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges.

Mexican security secretary Alfonso Durazo said 30 members of the National Guard militarised police and army were patrolling in Culiacan when they were fired on from a house.

They repelled the attack and found Ovidio Guzman Lopez inside.

However, the house was then surrounded by a “greater force” of cartel gunmen and the patrol was withdrawn from the house without Ovidio to prevent lives being lost.

Meanwhile fighters swarmed through the city shooting what appeared to be .50-caliber sniper rifles and machine guns while battling police and soldiers in broad daylight.

Videos published on social media showed gunmen, some wearing black ski masks over their faces, riding in the back of trucks firing mounted machine guns as vehicles and at least one petrol station burned.

Cristobal Castaneda, head of security in Sinaloa, told the Televisa network two people had been killed and 21 injured, according to preliminary information.

He said police had come under attack when they approached roadblocks manned by gunmen and advised residents not to leave their homes.

Simultaneously some 20 to 30 prisoners escaped from prison, though some were quickly recaptured, he said.

Sinaloa is home to the cartel by the same name, which was led by “El Chapo” Guzman. Guzman escaped from prison twice before being arrested and sentenced to life in prison in the US in July.

Ovidio was not one of the jailed Mexican drug lord’s best-known sons – Ivan Archivaldo Guzman and Jesus Alfredo Guzman are known as “los Chapitos,” or “the little Chapos,” and are believed to currently run their father’s Sinaloa Cartel together with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

But Ovidio was indicted in 2018 by a grand jury in Washington, along with a fourth brother, for the alleged trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

The indictment gave Ovidio’s age as 28, and said he had been involved in trafficking conspiracies since he was a teenager.

Additional reporting by agencies