Mon | Nov 11, 2019

Gunbattles rattle Mexican city after troops find El Chapo’s son

Published:Friday | October 18, 2019 | 1:41 PM
Unidentified gunmen block a street in Culiacan, Mexico, Thursday, October 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Augusto Zurita)

CULIACAN, Mexico (AP) — Mexican security forces backed off an attempt to capture a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman after finding themselves outgunned in a ferocious shootout with cartel enforcers that left at least eight people dead and more than 20 wounded, authorities said Friday.

The gunbattle Thursday paralysed the capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state and left the streets littered with burning vehicles.

Five attackers, a member of the National Guard, a civilian and a prisoner were killed, Mexican Defence Secretary Luís Cresencio Sandoval said.

Sinaloa Public Security Secretary Cristóbal Castañeda said earlier that 21 people were wounded and that 27 inmates escaped from a prison.

Sandoval said the forces were on an operation to arrest Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of the convicted Sinaloa cartel boss.

The younger Guzman was wanted for extradition to the US.

That sequence of events clashed with an initial account by federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo, who said 30 members of the National Guard and army were on patrol in Culiacan when they were fired on from a house and found the younger Guzmán inside.

Heavily armed gunmen in greater force then surrounded the house, and authorities decided to suspend the operation, Durazo said.

“With the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquillity of Culiacan society, officials in the security cabinet decided to suspend the actions,” Durazo said.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he supported the decision to pull back.

“The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people,” López Obrador said, calling the response to the operation “very violent” and saying many lives were put at risk.

The elder Guzman is serving a life sentence in the US after being convicted last February of industrial-scale drug trafficking.

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