MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president said Monday his government still intends to arrest Ovidio Guzmán, son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, once it can do so safely after the suspected trafficker’s forces waged gun battles with authorities in the northwestern city of Culiacan.
The younger Guzmán was briefly detained on Thursday in Culiacán, in the state of Sinaloa. He was released after officials realized they were outmatched.
“People’s lives must be looked after,” AMLO said.
Mexicans were divided over the decision to free Guzmán and widely skeptical over the government’s ability to contain escalating violence, according to an Oct. 18-20 phone survey of 400 adults published on Monday October 21st by Mexico City based newspaper Reforma.
Too little, too late
One day after the Culican events, the Federal government dispatched over 400 elite troops to patrol the city of Culiacan after the failed attempt to arrest the son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman left eight dead last week.
During the operation last Thursday, heavily armed members of Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel launched an assault on security forces who had detained Ovidio Guzman, later prompting them to release him and retreat.
Mexico’s defense minister admitted that the operation was “badly planned,” while Attorney General Alejandro Gertz announced on Monday that he would investigate those involved, including government officials.
“It is not just about the actions of one public servant or one criminal. We will be analyzing all the facts … to clarify what crimes may have been committed, then prosecute and punish them, without exception,” Gertz told a news conference.
President defends release
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has stood by the decision to release Ovidio Guzman, saying that many people would have otherwise been killed.
“Not just the criminals, who are also human beings, the soldiers, who we must protect, but [also] civilians,” he said.
During the clashes, cartel members set up roadblocks, set fire to trucks and used military-style weapons.
The government later seized a belt-fed machine gun, seven hand grenades, eight assault rifles and 20 vehicles.
Mexican and US officials also met on Monday to discuss curbing gun smuggling across the border, with Mexico’s foreign minister saying many of the guns used in the Culiacan assault were made in the United States.
The Yucatan Times Newsroom with information from Reuters