Mexican authorities have captured Ovidio Guzman-Lopez, a drug trafficker and one of former cartel leader El Chapo's sons, in a dramatic operation in the northern state of Sinaloa on Thursday (local time) that led to clashes around the city of Culiacan, reported CNN.
Incidentally, the arrest comes days before US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visit Mexico City to attend the North American Leaders Summit.
However, his arrest unleashed a spate of violence in Mexico with local officials telling citizens to shelter at home amid clashes with cartel members in various parts of Culiacan, reported CNN.
The US Embassy in Mexico tweeted "Reports of gunfire in multiple locations."
Cars were set on fire and residents were carjacked by alleged cartel members in the city of Culiacan in Sinaloa province on Wednesday night and into Thursday. Authorities have not said what sparked the violence, but such actions sometimes occur following the arrest of a cartel member.
In a morning address on Thursday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the operation in Culiacan had been underway since dawn.
As the arrest unfolded, Sinaloa Secretary of Public Security Cristobal Castaneda said that vehicles were being looted and blockades "are taking place in different parts of the city" as he asked the public not to leave the city.
The state's education secretary also announced that school and administrative activities had been suspended in Culiacan and urged those who are in a risk area to take refuge in a safe place, reported CNN.
The state of Sinaloa is home to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world's most powerful narcotics trafficking organizations. "El Chapo" was the leader of the cartel before he was sentenced to life in prison in 2020.
Guzman is described as "a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel" in a press release issued by the United States State Department on December 16, prior to his arrest, reported CNN.
He was previously arrested by federal authorities in October 2019, but was released on the orders of President Lopez Obrador to avoid further bloodshed.
Capturing Guzman could be a way for Lopez Obrador to show the US that he is "in control of the armed forces and Mexico's security situation," Gladys McCormick, an associate professor at Syracuse University who focuses on Mexico-US relations, told CNN in an email.
"It also defuses the power behind any ask from the Biden administration to stem the tide of fentanyl and other narcotics across the border," she added.
"El Chapo" Guzman was convicted in the US in 2019 of 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, drug trafficking and firearms charges. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay USD 12.6 billion in forfeiture.
(With Inputs from ANI)