Cartels fight a round with Mexican army...and win
For some time, I've been hearing about the cartels' firepower. It makes sense because they have millions of dollars and there are many high-powered rifles on the black market.
We saw it in the last 72 hours in Sinaloa, a Pacific coast state about 880 miles southwest of Dallas, Texas.
This is from news reports:
After being captured by Mexican forces, the Sinaloa cartel managed to wrest El Chappo's [sic] son free from government control with a stunning show of force complete with machine guns and rocket launchers.
The events unfolded in the city of Culiacán on Thursday after troops captured the son of jailed drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo. His son, Ovidio Guzmán Lopez, is one of many of the notorious kingpin's children who live in the area.
Another one of El Chapo's sons called up cartel members to begin a siege on Culiacán, according to the New York Times.
Trucks with large mounted machine guns were spotted, as were videos showing rocket launchers and rocket-powered grenades. Many civilians in the city were able to capture the staccato of gunfire during the prolonged battle, which ended in the deaths of at least seven and injured more than a dozen.
The Mexican forces who arrested the younger Guzmán released him after eight of their members were taken hostage. Part of the effort by the cartel to get Guzmán released reportedly included not only taking armed forces hostage, but also kidnapping their families.
Given that they were surrounded, the violence was continuing to rise, and there were hostages, the government surrendered and let Guzmán go.
President López-Obrador has been trying to put a happy face on the incident for a couple of days.
My Mexican friends are reacting to the whole thing according to their love or hatred of the Mexican president. On one side, they repeat the president's words that arresting one life was not worth risking many innocent ones. On the other side, the president's critics say you do not negotiate with terrorists.
So add another argument to a polarized nation arguing about everything.
My view is that the government made a mistake. Officials were probably caught by surprise or without sufficient forces to fight the well armed cartels.
Nevertheless, it was horrible to hear cartels claiming a military victory against the Mexican army.
What does President López-Obrador do? I hope he unleashes lots of force and deals a major loss to the cartels, perhaps even capturing El Chapo's son again. If not, we will see more policemen ambushed and trucks set on fire.
The cartels crossed a line in Sinaloa. Mexico must respond.