STORY: A wave of violence swept through Mexico’s Culiacan city on Thursday as security forces clashed with gang gunmen after the arrest of Ovidio Guzman, a key figure of the Sinaloa cartel, and son of drug baron Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Witness video showed vehicles on fire and passengers on a commercial flight diving for cover, as gunshots rang out at the city’s international airport.
Shots were fired as another plane, flown by the Mexican Air Force, taxied on the runway.
Defense Minister Luis Sandoval said Guzman was transferred to Mexico City by plane.
Authorities in Culiacan shut schools and told people to take shelter for fear of retaliatory gang violence, after El Chapo’s son was taken into custody – for a second time.
Ovidio Guzman emerged as a leader in the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s foremost narcotics groups, after his father’s arrest in 2016.
He was briefly detained in 2019. But at the time, hundreds of cartel henchmen overwhelmed security forces in pitched street battles in Culiacan.
Months later, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador personally ordered Guzman be released to avoid further bloodshed.
The bungled arrest embarrassed the Mexican government and kindled criticism that Lopez Obrador was soft on the cartels, which were producing large amounts of fentanyl responsible for a surge in overdose deaths in the United States.
The U.S. government had sought the younger Guzman’s extradition for years posting, in 2021, a $5 million dollar bounty for information leading to his arrest.
His latest capture comes ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Mexico next week for a summit where security issues will be discussed.
It isn’t clear if Ovidio will be extradited to the United States like his father, who is serving a life sentence at Colorado's Supermax, the most secure U.S. federal prison.