At least 29 people have been killed in Mexico following violent clashes and hours of shootouts prompted by the capture of one of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s sons.
Nineteen suspected gang members and 10 military personnel were killed in a wave of violence after Mexican security forces arrested Ovidio Guzman, the country’s defence minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said on Friday.
The ministry has also released a photo of the drug cartel boss following his arrest on Thursday.
Detailing the violent events that unfolded on Thursday, Mr Sandoval said cartel gunmen opened fire on troops with .50 caliber machine guns.
He added that the army called in Blackhawk helicopter gunships to attack a convoy of 25 cartel vehicles.
Guzman, 32, who is wanted by the US on drug trafficking charges, was extracted by helicopter from the house where he was caught in the northern state of Sinaloa in the early hours of Thursday morning, Mr Sandoval added.
The minister said Guzman, 32, was taken to a maximum security federal prison and 21 other people were arrested in the Mexican security force’s operation.
Social media footage appeared to show heavy fighting across the city of Culiacan after the arrest, as residents posted videos showing convoys of gunmen in pickup trucks and SUVs rolling down boulevards in the city.
No US force assisted Guzman’s arrest
The US has sought Guzman’s extradition for years.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said there were no immediate plans to extradite Guzman to the US, where his father is in a maximum security prison.
He added that no US forces had assisted in Guzman’s capture.
Guzman, known by the nickname “The Mouse,” has been charged in the US with conspiracy to traffic cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the US.
In 2021, the State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Guzman arrest ‘gift’ to US
The Mexican administration bagged the high-profile cartel figure just days before hosting Joe Biden.
Samuel González, who founded Mexico’s special prosecutor’s office for organized crime in the 1990s, said Guzmán’s capture was a “gift” ahead of Biden’s visit.
Mexico capture son of drug lord ‘El Chapo’
The Mexican government “is working to have a calm visit,” he said.
Authorities’ bungled arrest of Guzman in October 2019 embarrassed the government and spotlighted the challenges in cracking down on cartels, which control large swaths of Mexico.
The attempt ended in humiliation when Mr Obrador ordered the military to let him go after gunmen shot up the city with high-powered weapons.