Gunfights and roadblocks as violence erupts in Mexico after El Chapo's son is captured

Violence has erupted in Mexico after security forces captured the son of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Ovidio Guzmán - himself a high-profile cartel figure - was arrested outside Culiacan, a stronghold of the Sinaloa drug cartel in western Mexico in a pre-dawn operation by Mexican military forces on Thursday.

The capture of Guzmán - nicknamed 'the mouse' - has ignited gunfights and roadblocks across the western state’s capital. It mirrors the violence of 2019 - the last time authorities tried to capture him. The unrest ultimately led President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to order the military to let him go.

Residents have posted videos on social media showing convoys of gunmen in pickup trucks and SUVs driving down boulevards in the city.

All entrances to the city were blocked and similar acts were playing out in other parts of Sinaloa.

Reverend Esteban Robles, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Culiacan, said “there is an atmosphere of uncertainty, tension,” and those who could were staying inside their homes.

“A lot of the streets are still blocked by the cars that were burned,” he added.

The Culiacan municipal government warned: “Don’t leave home! The safety of Culiacan’s citisens is the most important.”

Men ride on a motorcycle past a burning truck on the streets of Culiacan. Credit: AP

Schools, local government and many private businesses have also closed.

At least one convoy included a flatbed truck with a mounted gun in the back, the same kind of vehicle that caused chaos and mayhem in the 2019 unrest.

At Culiacan’s airport, a Mexican military flight was able to spirit Guzmán away to Mexico City.

A commercial flight waited for its chance to take off as two large military planes landed with troops as did three or four military helicopters, and marines and soldiers began deploying along the perimeter of the runway.

When the airline flight was finally preparing to accelerate, passengers heard gunshots in the distance.

Within 15 seconds the sound was suddenly more intense and much closer, and passengers threw themselves to the floor, one man said.

No-one was injured, but the plane hastily retreated to the terminal.

Guzmán was indicted by the United States on drug trafficking charges in 2018.

Security personnel guard the prosecutor's building where Guzmán is in custody. Credit: AP

According to both governments, he had assumed a growing role among his brothers in carrying on their father's business, along with long- time cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Thursday's capture comes just days before López Obrador will host US President Joe Biden for bilateral talks followed by their North American Leaders’ Summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Drug trafficking, along with immigration, is expected to be a top talking point.