The city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state in northern Mexico, looked like a war zone last week as heavily armed members of the notorious Sinaloa cartel attacked Mexican security forces trying to arrest Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Residents dodged bullets and burning buses as gunmen besieged the city. Guzman Lopez has helped lead the Sinaloa cartel since his father’s arrest in 2016.
The brazen attack in broad daylight left at least eight people dead, including a member of Mexico’s National Guard, and injured dozens more. Outmanned and outgunned, the security forces eventually stood down and released Guzman Lopez.
The violence—and the surrender to the cartel—sent shockwaves through the country, and has led to intense criticism of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who defended the authorities’ decision to release Guzman Lopez, which he claimed saved lives. “The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people,” he said after the shootout.