The eldest son of “El Chapo,” the jailed notorious Mexican drug kingpin, was captured by Mexico’s military on Thursday, but then was released hours later after massive gun battles raged with the Sinaloa cartel on the streets of the northern Mexican city of Culiacan.
Security Minister Alfonso Durazo told Reuters that Ovidio Guzmán López was allowed to go free in order to “protect lives.”
Earlier Thursday night, Mexican television networks showed photos they reported were that of the captured son, said to be in his 20s, who is believed to have taken over cartel leadership following the arrest of his father.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, 62, was sentenced in July to life in prison in the U.S. after being convicted of multiple counts of drug trafficking and money laundering. His cartel was once known as the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world.
Ovidio is also wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. He was indicted in 2018 by a grand jury in Washington, D.C. for the alleged trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Amid roving shootouts between Mexican security forces and cartel members after the capture of El Chapo’s son, the Sinaloa state government had issued a warning to residents of Culiacan “to remain calm, not to go out on the streets and to be very aware of official notices about the evolution of these events.”
Some roads in the city of 750,000 people were blocked by burning trucks, while others were closed off by the military.
Sinaloa’s public security secretary Cristobal Castaneda told Milenio TV that the chaos in Culiacan during hours of fighting had also included a mass jailbreak of dozens of inmates.
— Denise Maerker (@DeniseMaerker) October 18, 2019