The federal government presented video footage on Wednesday that shows a son of convicted drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán urging his brother to stop the cartel attacks in Culiacán, Sinaloa, on October 17.
Security forces detained Ovidio Guzmán López but released him hours later to avoid a bloodbath after the operation to arrest him triggered attacks across the city.
In footage filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of a National Guard member, Guzmán López is seen speaking on a mobile telephone just after he surrendered to security forces.
According to the Secretariat of National Defense, on the other end of the line was his brother Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, who was coordinating attacks and the establishment of road blockades across the city.
“Stop [the shooting], stop it, I already turned myself in . . . I don’t want there to be any more chaos, please,” Guzmán López says following instructions from security forces who ordered him to ask for an end to the violence.
Despite the request, the violence continued in Culiacán for several hours. At least 13 people, including several alleged cartel hitmen, were killed.
National Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval told reporters this morning that the arrest of Guzmán López occurred at 3:15pm. In the video footage, security forces are seen in the parking area of a building while gunshots ring out.
“What you hear is the aggression to which military personnel were subjected,” Cresencio said.
The video then shows a woman leaving the house with another man before Guzmán López appears with his hands raised. He tells security personnel that he is unarmed.
Guzmán is then ordered to kneel and place his hands on the wall while the woman argues with the security forces, telling them that there are children inside. The federal forces continue to aim their weapons at the open door leading to the parking lot while urging everyone to stay calm.
The footage then shows the 28-year-old son of former drug lord “El Chapo” Guzmán speaking on the phone. “Be calm, stop everything . . . Tell them to withdraw,” Guzmán says.
When the security forces later withdrew from the house in the Tres Ríos neighborhood of Culiacán, they were not accompanied by the suspected Sinaloa Cartel leader, who is wanted in the United States on trafficking charges.
Also at Wednesday’s press conference, Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo again defended the decision taken by the security cabinet to release Guzmán.
“In Culiacán, it would have been easy to resort to a fight to the death, a confrontation without mercy or respect of individual rights and in the end, we would have won. But at what cost?” he said.
“. . . What could have become a scene of war and the shedding of innocent blood was resolved in favor of a return to peace and protecting the public,” Durazo said.
The day after the arrest and release of Guzmán, he and Cresencio admitted that the operation was poorly planned and hastily executed.
However, Durazo said that errors made during the operation didn’t justify a change in the government’s security strategy, which aims to avoid the use of force whenever possible.
President López Obrador has repeatedly defended the security cabinet order to release Guzmán, stating last week that the decision was “very difficult” but “very humane.”