Violent street fighting escalated in Mexico, and the Sinaloa cartel shot at security forces.
Chiara SchlenzEditor News
Burning cars, roadblocks and hooded members of the Sinaloa drug cartel on motorcycles: Street fighting in Mexico has been escalating since Thursday after Ovidio Guzmán (32), the son of the notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán (65), was arrested.
Stefan Brägger (41) has to experience the fierce fighting in the epicenter, the city of Culiacán, up close. The Swiss is currently on vacation in Mexico, visiting his wife’s family when chaos begins. In a conversation with Blick, he tells of anxious moments. “When it started, I got scared for a moment.” His family reassured him: “As long as you remain calm, nothing usually happens to you.”
“Like a ghost town”
Nevertheless: the rising smoke, the sound of gunshots and the uncertainty of when it will all be over – the uneasy feeling remains. Especially since hardly any information is given to the population. “You don’t know what’s going on. The authorities do not communicate,” says Brägger. “Everything is very confusing.”
The last night’s sleep was interrupted by isolated shots and the circling helicopters. “This morning the streets were deserted, a ghost town.” Because even if the fighting has subsided, there is no guarantee of safety – that’s why the population prefers to stay indoors. Some dare to go to work, Brägger observes some cars on the streets.
Swiss stuck – airport closed
Fighting extends to the local airport on Thursday and Friday. A passenger plane and a military plane were hit by bullets, according to the airline Aeromexico and the government. Air traffic has been suspended.
Brägger is also affected by the flight ban. He and his wife actually wanted to fly back to Switzerland yesterday, but then the fighting started. “It’s currently quiet, but the airport is still closed.” It is unclear how long he and his wife will have to stay in Culiacan.
29 dead after arrest
According to the government, 29 people were killed when Guzmán was arrested. The fatalities are ten military personnel and 19 “lawbreakers,” said Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval (62) on Friday.
Ovidio Guzmán was arrested in northern Mexico on Thursday, after which suspected members of Guzmán’s drug cartel fought fierce gun battles with security forces. Guzmán cannot be extradited to the US for the time being. A federal judge ruled on Friday at the request of the 32-year-old’s lawyers that all procedures for the extradition of Guzmán should be suspended until further notice.