It looked like a scene out of a movie. Or in this case, a clip from Narcos — a popular Netflix show about drug cartels. But what happened yesterday in broad daylight in Culiacán, Mexico, was no Hollywood depiction, but a real-life battle between the Mexican cartel and authorities.
The battle began when Mexican authorities, about 30 National Guard and army troops, were conducting a routine patrol in Culiacán — the capital city of Sinaloa, Mexico. They apprehended 28-year-old Ovidio Guzmán López — the son of infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Ovidio is said to be a high-ranking cartel leader in Mexico who seemingly took over his dad’s leadership after he was arrested.
So the Mexican military just caught El Chapo's son and now there have been multiple shooting in response, thankfully classes where cancelled because of rain, these shootings took place next to my school, this really makes me sad#Culiacán #shooting pic.twitter.com/C4FT6ovGrZ
— Jesús (@foxky09) October 17, 2019
Mexican authorities detained him, but the arrest didn’t last long because the cartel fired in retaliation and overtook the situation. They began firing at the authorities until officials had no other choice but to cease fire and release Ovidio. They said they had to do that to deescalate the situation and avoid more deaths.
According to NPR, “Cristóbal Castañeda, the public safety director for Sinaloa state, told Milenio television that people had been wounded in the firing but gave no figures. He did not rule out that there were deaths.”
El chapos son was arrested & #Sinaloa cartel turned #Culiacán into a war zone in retaliation. MF’s are shooting American made 50cal’s and RPGs at Police. All fueled by 🇺🇸appetite for drugs 😖 pic.twitter.com/md5S6QHapr
— Asset CΩwboy 🏁🌴 (@NotoriousIanV) October 18, 2019
Video footage shared on social media shows people running for their lives, trying to take cover, or speeding away in their cars. One video shows a man, believed to be from the cartel and armed with weapons, telling people in a restaurant that they should leave soon because the situation was dire. Another heartbreaking video shows small children who were released from school hiding behind a car with their dad and asking him if it was safe to stand up.
One woman on social media who lives in Culiacán took this moment to show that imbalance between the Hollywood perception of cartels and the horrific reality that people face.
She tweeted, “Members of drug cartel run by el Chapo are shooting up the streets to get his son back. STOP GLORIFYING NARCO CULTURE. The whole city is a war zone right now. Oremos por Culiacán🙏🏽 smh.”
Ernesto Martínez, a local crime reporter who was in the middle of the gunfire, told the New York Times that yesterday’s battle was the worst he has ever seen.
— Francisco Velasco (@FranciscoEfV) October 17, 2019
“In my 21 years of covering crime at the heart of the drug world, this has been the worst shoot out and the most horrible situation I have ever encountered,” Martínez said to the New York Times.
Crime in Mexico has been persistent, particularly in states such as Sinaloa. There has also been a surge of violence in the past couple of days. On Tuesday, 15 people died in a mass shooting in the state of Guerrero. A day before, cartel shooters killed 13 police in the state of Michoacan.