Culiacan, Sinaloa, MEXICO – Eight people were killed, 20 more were wounded, and a Mexican city was under siege after a botched arrest of one of narcotics kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons on Thursday (video below).
The incident began when more than 30 Mexican agents attempted to serve an arrest warrant for Ovidio Guzmán Lopez on Oct. 17 at a house in the Sinaloa state, the New York Post reported.
The agents were shot at when they first arrived at the home, but they managed to get inside and briefly capture the kingpin’s son.
The Sinaloa cartel launched a brutal response that involved numerous military-grade weapons, the Washington Examiner reported.
Video from the fierce gun battle showed criminals armed with high-caliber sniper rifles, light machine guns, a bazooka, and customized rifles outgunning the Mexican authorities.
Vehicles were set ablaze as gunman released torrents of bullets across the city, killing eight people and wounding at least 20 more.
Thugs atop vehicles with mounted weapons took control of the city until Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ordered police to release Guzmán Lopez, KFOX reported.
Critics have said Mexico made a huge mistake with that move because other cartels will be emboldened to take the same urban-warfare approach when their leaders are arrested.
“I think one of the greatest risks that the Mexican government took when it made the decision to release Chapo’s son was to send the wrong message to the various cartels… which may themselves prepare a contingency plan that includes a rapid urban-warfare type of reaction to defend their leaders,” Tony Payan, director of the Center for the United States and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, told KFOX.
Payan said the move sent a bad message.
“It is a bad precedent that sends the message that the Mexican government is more than willing to cave in if [the cartels] show a certain degree of force, especially in an urban setting where many lives are at stake and people may get caught in the crossfire,” he said.
Although the Sinaloa cartel dominates the Chihuahua region, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel has made strides nationwide and displaced hundreds of Mexican families from their homes, KFOX reported.
Payan said the Mexican president’s decision to release Guzman Lopez showed the country isn’t prepared to deal with organized crime within its borders.
“They were very ill-prepared to carry out these kinds of operations; they were sloppy and completely unprepared for the response. They underestimated the consequences and sent the wrong message to the cartels,” the policy analyst said. “The Mexican government has weakened its hand against organized crime.”
He said Mexican citizens have joined the groups waiting at the El Paso border to seek asylum in the United States, KFOX reported.
Lopez Obrador has stood by his decision to release the kingpin’s son and said it wasn’t worth losing lives to arrest one criminal.
Mexico Secretary of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval criticized the way the Mexican Army and National Guard handled the arrest, the New York Post reported.
Cresencio Sandoval said the arrest was meant to pave the way for the United States to extradite, but complained Mexican cabinet officials weren’t told about it in advance.
“The group responsible for this action, in eagerness to achieve positive results, acted in a hasty manner, with poor planning,” he told reporters on Friday.
Guzmán Lopez’s father, the notorious “El Chapo,” was sentenced to life in prison by a Brooklyn federal judge in July, the New York Post reported.
You can see video from the incident below: