Arrest of major drug cartel boss sparks violent shoot off in Mexico

Mexican plane hit by bullets leaving panicked passengers

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Violence has broken out in a northwestern city in Mexico after the son of an infamous drug lord was arrested on drug trafficking charges. Ovidio Guzman Lopez was detained by Mexican military and National Guard forces in Culiacan, defence secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval announced on Thursday, and awaits extradition to the US, who have offered a £4.2 million ($5 million) bounty for his capture. Following his arrest, citizens of Culiacan were instructed “not to leave their homes” as members of Lopez’s Sinaloa Cartel began lighting cars on fire and shooting at military aircraft. 

Culiacan has been gripped by violence since Lopez’s arrest, with the local airport shut down after a passenger aircraft came under fire. 

Sinaloa public safety chief Cristobal Castaneda said police were working on “controlling the situation” as cartel members continued to destroy parts of the city and open fire on the military. 

A similar tactic was used in 2019 when Lopez was last arrested. About 700 cartel gunmen took hostages – including 8 Mexican soldiers – in an apartment complex housing the families of government employees.

Eventually, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ordered the criminal’s release to prevent further deaths. 

Culiacan Mayor Juan de Dios Gamez said on Thursday: “We ask the citizens of Culiacan not to leave home due to the blockades that have occurred in different parts of the city.” 

Local schools and government offices were forced to shut down for the day as the military and police struggled to contain the violence. 

Videos posted on social media showed members of the Sinaloa Cartel blocking roads, lighting cars on fire and shooting at military planes. 

Later in the day, a passenger on an Aeromexico flight to Mexico City was hit by cartel bullets as the gunmen extended their violence to civilians. 

Passengers and crew members on board the flight took cover as the plane waited to take off on the runway.

The plane was eventually grounded, Aeromexico said, and the airline was forced to cancel all remaining flights on Thursday. 

The US Department of Homeland Security is hoping to extradite Lopez before the violence escalates and a repeat of 2019 is forced by the cartel, leading to the son of the drug lord’s release. 

Ovidio Guzman Lopez assumed partial control of the Sinaloa Cartel after his father was arrested in 2016. 

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Several of El Chapo’s sons now have power of the group, including Ivan Archivaldo Guzman and Jesus Alfredo Guzman. 

Together with Ovidio these sons became known as ‘los chapitos,’ or the ‘little Chapos.’

The brothers then began consolidating power with current Sinaloa leader Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, who is currently rumoured to be in poor health.

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