CULIACAN, Mexico — Violence erupted in the capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state as one of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s sons was taken into custody and then released.
Multiple news outlets reported that the military had taken Ovidio Guzmán López into custody and was later released Thursday after a gun battle raged for hours and entrances to the city of Culiacan were blocked by burning vehicles.
Authorities put out an advisory after unrest broke out asking residents to remain calm, not go into the streets, and to remain aware of any official advisories while the situation evolves.
Mexican security forces were deployed to the area. State officials asked people to avoid the area.
Mexican security secretary Alfonso Durazo said 30 members of the National Guard and army were patrolling in Culiacan when they were fired on from a house. They repelled the attack and inside the house found Ovidio Guzman.
The house was then surrounded by heavily armed gunmen who had “a greater force” and authorities decided to suspend the operation, Durazo said.
José Luis González Meza, a lawyer for “El Chapo’s” family, told The Associated Press that Guzmán’s family has said “Ovidio is alive and free” but that he had no more details about what had happened.
Ovidio was not one of the jailed Mexican drug lord’s best-known sons – Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán 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 Guzmán was indicted in 2018 by a grand jury in Washington, along with a fourth brother, for the alleged trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Following Thursday’s localization of Ovidio Guzmán, Culiacan exploded in violence with armed civilians in trucks roaring through the city’s center shooting what appeared to be .50-caliber sniper rifles and machine guns.
Videos published on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some wearing black ski masks over their faces, riding in the back of trucks firing mounted machine guns as vehicles burned. People could be seen running for cover as machinegun fire rattled around them. Drivers drove in reverse frantically to get away from the clashes.
Sinaloa public safety director Cristóbal Castañeda told Milenio television that there were people wounded but did not provide a casualty figure. He did not rule out that there were deaths.
Sinaloa is home to the cartel by the same name, which was led by “El Chapo” Guzmán. Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison in the United States in July. He has many children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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