Two days after Mexican authorities spectacularly failed to keep Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s third son in custody, eight people are dead and nearly 50 dangerous prisoners who escaped from prison remain at large.
On Thursday, 35 elite Mexican military troops descended on a home in the the city of Culiacán to carry out a U.S. extradition order on El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzmán López, who was inside the property with three others. The raid led to a counter-attack by heavily armed men who surrounded the house and troops and, in what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated plan that will surely inspire a new Netflix series, unleashed chaos throughout the city with incredible precision.
The men, presumed to be members of the Sinaloa Cartel that El Chapo once led, worked in tandem, carrying high-caliber weapons. They blocked intersections, closed toll booths and burned cars. At the same time, inmates inside the local prison rioted in what appeared to be a planned attack, taking weapons from guards and breaking free. Of the 56 dangerous prisoners who escaped, 49 remained at large on Saturday morning, according to Sinaloa Public Security Secretary Cristóbal Castañeda.
As the chaos unfolded, Mexican authorities now say they had no choice but to release El Chapo’s son in the name of peace. “This decision was made to protect citizens,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday. “You cannot fight fire with fire. We do not want deaths. We do not want war.”
El Chapo’s sons Joaquin Guzman Lopez, 34, and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, 28, were charged for conspiring to distribute cocaine, meth and marijuana within the U.S. starting in April 2008 until April 2018. An extradition order for both was unsealed in Feb. 2019, which triggered the raid this week.
State Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo admitted that security forces had not taken into account the cartel members would be waiting for them. El Chapo’s three sons are among the most wanted men in Mexico and their protection is seen as a matter of priority by the cartel.
El Chapo, who is serving life prison in the U.S. for drug trafficking, was also the master of escape, evading authorities for years, even escaping prison through a tunnel built into his jail cell floor.
The son who was captured is seen as the least known of the famous drug kingpin’s sons. Guzman’s other sons, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán are far better known and referred to as “Los Chapitos” which means the “little Chapos.”
“This was a failed operation,” Durazo said Friday. He also said the troops involved in the raid acted independently to release the younger Guzman to prevent retaliation being carried out against the civilian population. “We are not going to convert Mexico into a greater cemetery than it already is,” he said.