Mexico’s president faced a firestorm of criticism Friday as his security forces acknowledged they arrested kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s son, then released him when his cartel responded with an all-out gun battle.
Admitting his troops carried out a “badly planned” operation, Defense Minister Luis Sandoval said they briefly arrested Ovidio Guzman — one of several sons running the Sinaloa drug cartel since their father was extradited to the US in 2017 — but released him after being overpowered.
“It was a badly planned strategy,” Sandoval told a news conference in Culiacan, the western city of 750,000 people that was turned into an urban war zone Thursday.
“The task force acted too hastily,” he added, saying soldiers “improvised” by trying to obtain an arrest warrant midway through.
He added the authorities never “formally detained” Guzman, 28, one of at least nine children “El Chapo” fathered with three wives.
The six hours of clashes left one civilian and seven soldiers dead, and three police wounded, officials said after an emergency cabinet meeting in Culiacan, the state capital of Sinaloa, the Guzmans’s bastion.
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