According to the Mexican government, a violent gunfight that terrorized an airport resulted in the deaths of ten troops and 19 suspected criminals during an operation to apprehend the son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
After enraged gunmen went on the rampage to try to liberate their leader, thousands of military retook control of Culiacan, the Sinaloa cartel stronghold that resembled a war zone.
El Chapo’s son was apprehended on Thursday in the northwest city and taken to Mexico City before being sent to the high-security Altiplano jail in the heart of Mexico, where “El Chapo” escaped in 2015.
Since the former Sinaloa cartel chief was extradited to the United States in 2017, the 32-year-old, known as “El Raton” (The Mouse), is said to have assisted in managing his father’s business.
According to Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, a colonel in charge of an army unit was among those murdered when his squad was attacked after the arrest.
While 21 gunmen were detained, 35 more troops who had been shot were sent to the hospital.
Sandoval said that a civilian plane ready to take off from Culiacan International Airport and two Mexican Air Force planes were attacked as cartel goons tried to free Ovidio Guzman.
Sandoval says that after “a significant number of collisions,” the military plane “had to make an emergency landing.” The Culiacan airport resumed operations on Friday after the aircraft strikes left no one hurt.
The United States offered a reward for information that resulted in Ovidio Guzman’s apprehension. It charges him with being a significant figure in the Sinaloa cartel his father established.
The arrest happened as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was getting ready to meet with his American counterpart, Joe Biden, in Mexico for a meeting of North American leaders next week. Security is expected to be a big topic of discussion at the meeting.
According to John Kirby, spokesperson for the US National Security Council, the drug trafficker’s capture was “not an inconsequential victory by Mexican authorities.”
“And we’re absolutely glad for that,” he added, adding that the US and Mexico will continue to cooperate “lockstep” in order to combat the trafficking of the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Mexico denied that the US was involved in the capture of Ovidio Guzman.
“We take independent, autonomous action. Yes, there is collaboration, and there will be more of it, but we make the decisions as a sovereign administration, Lopez Obrador told the press.
He said that order had been restored to the 800,000-person metropolis of Culiacan after security personnel cleared the city of dozens of stolen and burned-out automobiles.
videos posted on social media Gunfire erupted at Culiacan airport on Thursday, with passengers and Aeromexico staff hiding behind counters.
Authorities recorded 19 roadblocks and vehicle and truck fires at several city intersections caused by cartel gunmen.
El Chapo is currently serving a life sentence in the US for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, meth, and fentanyl into the nation over a 25-year period.
Although his gang is still among the most powerful in Mexico, Washington accuses it of taking advantage of the opioid crisis by dumping large amounts of fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic that is nearly 50 times more toxic than heroin, into American neighborhoods.
The US State Department says that Ovidio Guzman and one of his brothers may have worked together to sell cocaine and marijuana and run about a dozen meth labs in Sinaloa.
It also said that Ovidio Guzman had killed informants, a drug dealer, and a Mexican singer who had turned down an invitation to sing at his wedding.
After a full-scale battle was started by his cartel in response to their brief capture of him in 2019, security forces freed him.
Lopez Obrador’s decision to let him go was met with harsh criticism, even though he said he did it to save people’s lives.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says that Ovidio Guzman is likely to face legal proceedings in Mexico. He has played down the chances of a quick extradition.
Since the government controversially sent the army to battle drug cartels in 2006, Mexico has recorded more than 340,000 murders, the majority of which have been attributed to criminal gangs.