Gunfight breaks out in Mexico after security forces find El Chapo's son

A huge gunfight broke out in Mexico after security forces captured the son of jailed druglord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

Ovidio Guzman Lopez escaped from police when 30 members of the National Guard and army were patrolling in Culiacan, northwestern Mexico, when they were fired on from a house.

Fire over the city of Culiacan in Mexico after fighting. Credit: AP

Emergency services managed to repel the attack from the house and found Ovidio Guzman Lopez inside a property. The suspect is wanted in the US for drug trafficking charges.

Guzman's house was then surrounded by heavily armed gunmen who had a "greater force" and authorities were forced to retreat.

Guzman was then later released to avoid further fighting on the streets, according to authorities.

Footage posted online and on Mexican television shows scenes which resemble a war zone, with gunmen in black ski masks riding in the back of trucks with mounted machine guns.

Vehicles were left burnt out on the side of the road as people ran for cover while gunfire rang through the air.

Mexican security secretary Alfonso Durazo said: "With the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquillity of Culiacan society, officials in the security cabinet decided to suspend the actions."

A huge gunfight broke out in Mexico after security forces captured the son of jailed druglord Joaquín Credit: AP

Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza, a lawyer for “El Chapo’s” family, told The Associated Press that Guzman’s family has said “Ovidio is alive and free” but that he had no more details about what had happened.

Ovidio was not one of the jailed Mexican drug lord’s best-known sons – Ivan Archivaldo Guzman and Jesus Alfredo Guzman are known as “los Chapitos,” or “the little Chapos,” and are believed to currently run their father’s Sinaloa Cartel together with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

El Chapo has been locked up in a high-security prison for life in the US after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

But Ovidio Guzman was indicted in 2018 by a grand jury in Washington, along with a fourth brother, for the alleged trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Following Thursday's shoot-out, Culiacan exploded in violence with armed civilians shooting what appeared to be .50-calibre sniper rifles and machine guns.

Smoke from burning cars rises amid the gunfight in Culiacan. Credit: Augusto Zurita/AP

“Nothing is working,” said Ricardo Gonzalez, a worker in the state’s congress who shut himself up in his house after picking up his 15-year-old son from school.

“There is a psychosis. No one knows what is going on but everyone is afraid and they have told us to not come in to work tomorrow.”

A man handles a bullet cartridge next to a truck with a flat tyre and covered with bullet holes Credit: Augusto Zurita/AP

Sinaloa public safety director Cristobal Castaneda said that there were people wounded and did not rule out that there were deaths.

Mr Castaneda said gunmen blocked streets with burning vehicles, a common tactic to make it difficult for security forces to manoeuvre. Simultaneously, some 20 to 30 prisoners escaped though some were quickly recaptured, he said.

State officials asked residents to avoid going out in parts of city.

Govervor Quirino Ordaz confirmed that school classes had been suspended but that businesses would open on Friday.

Mr Gonzalez, however, doubted this.

El Chapo has been detained in the US on drug trafficking charges. Credit: AP

“There is no public transportation, no taxis, people outside the city remain blocked outside and tomorrow will be the same,” he said, adding that Culiacan had not seen such a scene for almost a decade, when the Sinaloa Cartel was experiencing an internal war.

Sinaloa is home to the cartel by the same name, which was led by “El Chapo” Guzman. Guzman was sentenced to life in prison in the United States in July. He has many children.

After Guzman’s third arrest in 2016, an internal battle for succession began playing out. The battle was resolved with the arrest of Damaso Lopez Nunez and his son Damaso Lopez Serrano, who led a rival faction.