Thursday, 21 November 2019

Mexican president defends retreat in face of cartel violence

(AP Photo/Augusto Zurita)

CULIACAN: Mexican authorities say they backed off an attempt to capture a son of drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman after cartel gunmen shooting heavy weapons and burning vehicles that paralyzed the capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state – apparently outgunning lawmen.

Twenty-one people were wounded, state public security secretary Cristóbal Castañeda said, and 27 inmates escaped a prison. Mexican security secretary Alfonso Durazo said 30 members of the National Guard and army were patrolling in Culiacan when they were fired on from a house Thursday.

They repelled the attack and inside the house found Ovidio Guzmán López, son of the convicted Sinaloa cartel boss. The house was then surrounded by heavily armed gunmen who had “a greater force” and authorities decided to suspend the operation, Durazo said.

He did not say if Ovidio Guzmán had been arrested or went free, but Durazo told Televisa late at night that security forces entered the house but left without him.

“With the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquility of Culiacan society, officials in the security cabinet decided to suspend the actions,” Durazo said. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday that he backed the decisions of his security officials, and added that the army operation was based on an arrest warrant. “The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people,” López Obrador said, calling the response to the operation “very violent” and saying many lives were put at risk. “This decision was made to protect citizens. … You cannot fight fire with fire,” he added. “We do not want deaths. We do not want war.”

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