El Chapo: Heavy fighting erupts in Culiacán over drug lord’s son


There has been heavy fighting in northern Mexico between the security forces and members of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel after one of the group’s leaders was discovered.

Ovidio Guzmán López was found during a routine patrol in Culiacán.

He is the son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was sentenced in the US to life in prison plus 30 years.

Guzmán, 62, was found guilty in New York of 10 charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

He escaped a Mexican jail through a tunnel in 2015, but was later arrested. He was extradited to the United States in 2017.

Guzmán is a former head of the Sinaloa cartel, which officials say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US.

Media captionEl Chapo trial: Five facts about Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán

What happened in Culiacán?

The state government said Ovidio Guzmán was found in a house by a police patrol on a routine search.

It said cartel members subsequently launched the huge attack in an attempt to seize him back from the authorities.

Armed people are seen in Culiacán, Sinaloa state, Mexico. Photo: 17 October 2019
Image captionArmed men were seen in several areas of Culiacán on Thursday

Ovidio Guzmán, said to be in his 20s, is believed to have played a key role in the Sinaloa cartel, following the arrest of his father.

He is wanted in the US on several drug-related charges, Mexican media report.

He was briefly detained before being released by the police.

There have been no official reports of fatalities, but pictures have emerged apparently showing dead bodies on the streets of the city.

Burning vehicles in Culiacán, Mexico. Photo: 17 October 2019
Image captionCars and jeeps have been set on fire during the clashes in Culiacán

The Sinaloa state government said it was “working to restore calm and order in the face of the high-impact incidents that have occurred in recent hours in various points around Culiacán”, AFP news agency reports.

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‘City under siege’

By BBC Mexico correspondent Will Grant

The commercial district of Culiacán resembled a battlefield with cars and jeeps set on fire and a large deployment of military vehicles.

Panic spread in the city as sustained fighting took place between scores of cartel gunmen – in pick-up trucks with machine guns mounted on them – and a large deployment of police and the military.

In the middle of the chaos, a jail break involving a number of prisoners also apparently took place in the city as the cartel tried to sow greater confusion in the effort to recover their leader.

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What was El Chapo’s role in Mexico’s drug trade?

“El Chapo” (or “Shorty”) ran the Sinaloa cartel across northern Mexico.

Media captionMexico’s drug war: Has it turned the tide?

Over time, it became one of the biggest traffickers of drugs to the US. In 2009, Guzmán entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1bn (£775m).

He was accused of having helped export hundreds of tonnes of cocaine into the US and of conspiring to manufacture and distribute heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

He was also said to have used hitmen to carry out “hundreds” of murders, assaults, kidnappings and acts of torture on rivals.

Key associates, including one former lieutenant, testified against Guzmán.

Source :BBC News

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