Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, was detained in the Mexican northern city of Culiacán, Sinaloa on Thursday but was later freed after an hours-long shootout between police and members of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
CNN reports that Mexican federal troops captured Guzmán López, 28, in a “federally-coordinated operation.” When rumors of his arrest spread, the Sinaloa Cartel, which El Chapo headed for decades before his U.S. imprisonment, led to massive gun battles.
Images of the armed conflict show cartel members in armored vehicles shooting heavy artillery from military-grade machinery at federal troops. During the gunfight, vehicles and a gas station were set on fire, while choking black smoke filled the air. After hours of the shootout, officers, outmatched by the cartel, withdrew and freed Guzmán López hoping to prevent the loss of lives, the government said.
“The decision was taken to retreat from the house, without Guzman, to try to avoid more violence in the area and preserve the lives of our personnel and recover calm in the city,” Security Minister Alfonso Durazo Monraño told Reuters.
The shootout occurred in a residential area, forcing some locals to flee, others to lock themselves in their homes and some in search for cover behind parked cars.
José Luis González Meza, “El Chapo’s” family lawyer, told The Associated Press that Guzmán López’s relatives said, “Ovidio is alive and free” but that he didn’t have any more details about what happened.
Guzmán López is wanted in the U.S. after he and his brother Joaquín were indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges in February. They allegedly conspired to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States from 2008 to 2018.