Gunfight Over Son Of 'El Chapo' In Mexico | KERA News

Gunfight Over Son Of 'El Chapo' In Mexico

Oct 18, 2019
Originally published on October 18, 2019 9:42 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A frightening scene unfolded in the Sinaloa region of Mexico yesterday. Armed gunmen went on a shooting rampage through the streets, sending residents running for cover. At this hour, Mexico's president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is answering questions about it at a morning press conference. The shooting started after military troops encountered one of the sons of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. He's the drug kingpin and former head of the Sinaloa Cartel who's now serving time in a U.S. prison. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, it is unclear whether authorities arrested the younger Guzman or let him go to avoid further violence. A note - this story contains the sound of gunshots.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The confrontation that sparked the hours-long urban turmoil began yesterday afternoon in Culiacan, the capital of the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa. Mexico's head of public security, Alfonso Durazo, in a televised statement last night provided only a few details.

A group of 30 armed officers came under fire while on routine patrol around 3:30 p.m., he said. The gunfire was coming from inside a house. Officers were able to take control of the house and inside found Ovidio Guzman Lopez, the 28-year-old son of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman. Soon after, though, cartel gunmen surrounded the building, overpowering the federal forces.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALFONSO DURAZO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: At the same time, says Durazo, other armed groups attacked citizens throughout the city, generating panic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DURAZO: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: For hours throughout the afternoon, multiple videos posted on social media showed heavily-armed gunmen roving the streets of Culiacan in vehicles, some firing weapons down major thoroughfares, others setting vehicles on fire.

Residents abandoned cars along the road. Others hid in stores. This local reporter was caught in a barrage of gunfire as he filmed one vehicle packed with armed men.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Another video filmed from the safety of an upper-story apartment window shows two gunmen in a pickup truck. One of the men is armed with what appears to be a .50-caliber machine gun bolted to the back. Fires from burning vehicles could be seen in several points throughout the city of about 750,000 people. State officials warned residents to remain calm and shelter in place.

Ovidio Guzman Lopez and his two brothers reportedly took over the Sinaloa Cartel after their father, Joaquin "El Chapo," was extradited to the U.S. Earlier this year, he was convicted and sentenced to life in a U.S. prison. The younger Guzman is named in a U.S. indictment unsealed earlier this year charging him, too, with cocaine trafficking.

Mexico's president has come under fire for his handling of the country's deteriorating security situation. Homicides are on track to set another record this year, topping 23,000. Earlier this week, 13 police officers were ambushed and killed by cartel gunmen in western Michoacan State.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUILTY GHOSTS' "GREAT MALEVOLENT WITHHOLDER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.