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Cartel Gunmen Free Son of 'El Chapo'

Mexican city became battlefield after he was detained
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2019 1:34 AM CDT
Smoke from burning cars rises in Culiacan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.   (AP Photo/Hector Parra)
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(Newser) – The son of former Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was located along with other cartel members in the Mexican city of Culiacan Thursday—but he wasn't detained for long. Mexican security secretary Alfonso Durazo says that after 30 members of the National Guard and army found Ovidio Guzman, the house was surrounded by a "greater force" of cartel gunmen, the AP reports. Durazo says authorities decided to free Guzman to protect the lives of the officers and restore calm to the city, where heavy fighting had erupted between security forces and cartel members. 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," Durazo says, per NBC.

Ovidio Guzman, who is believed to be in his 20s, is wanted in the US on several drug-related charges. Three of his brothers are believed to have more senior roles in the cartel. After he was detained, the city's commercial district "resembled a battlefield with cars and jeeps set on fire and a large deployment of military vehicles," says BBC correspondent Will Grant. "Panic spread in the city as sustained fighting took place between scores of cartel gunmen—in pick-up trucks with machine guns mounted on them—and a large deployment of police and the military." Dozens of prisoners are believed to have escaped in a jailbreak during the chaos. Earlier this week, at least 13 police officers were killed in an ambush in Michoacan state. (Read more Mexico stories.)

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