- The startling failure came amidst emerging criticism that his administration wasn’t doing enough to curb rising cases of drug-related violence.
- Mexico is grappling with a rising homicide rate.
- The National Guard has been unable to quell the situation
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has admitted that he ordered the release of Ovidio Guzman, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s son, in October last year. This was following a bungled operation to capture him in Culiacan, the capital city of the state of Sinaloa.
Hundreds of Cartel gunmen from around the state blocked major highways in Culiacan, and surrounded the law enforcement unit that had captured the younger Guzman. The attempt could have caused hundreds of deaths without the intervention. This is as stated by the president. Running gun battles between the hitmen and the authorities left 14 people dead.
The startling failure came amidst emerging criticism that his administration wasn’t doing enough to curb rising cases of drug-related violence in the country. Instead of waging a direct war with the cartels, as past presidents have done, AMLO’s administration has chosen to go after their finances instead.
Over the past few months, his government has frozen over $1 billion worth of assets belonging to Mexican drug cartels. There are fears that AMLO’s policy of “hugs not bullets” has emboldened the cartels, who now appear to have significant control over territories in their stronghold.
The release of Lopez Guzman last year caused outrage, both in and outside Mexico. US President Donald Trump reportedly called AMLO to provide assistance, which AMLO declined. According to AMLO, he politely explained that it is up to his country to handle its internal affairs.
Since the extradition of “El Chapo” to the US, Mexican authorities have focused on capturing his sons, who now run the Sinaloa Cartel. Ovidio Guzmán López, is believed to be one of its main leaders, alongside his brothers. AMLO has defended the move to call off the operation by asserting that the decision saved lives.
Ovidio’s brothers, Alfredo Guzmán and Iván Archivaldo Guzmán, are believed to have coordinated attacks against the arresting federal agents. AMLO has not shied away from reaching out to the cartels. He sparked outrage earlier this year after visiting “El Chapo’s” home town and greeting his mother. The move was, according to his critics, against government social distancing regulations.
The town, which is situated in the northern state of Sinaloa, is part of Mexico’s Golden Triangle. In the mountainous region lies vast marijuana and poppy-fields that have long fueled the country’s drug trade.
AMLO Criticized for not Curbing Violence
Mexican drug cartels have contributed greatly to the nation’s rising homicide rate, and the president has been criticized for doing little to overcome the problem. He recently ordered the National Guard to cover the streets in an effort to address the issue, but the coronavirus pandemic wrecked these plans.
Approximately 4,700 National Guard officers have been ordered to provide security at hospitals for medical workers who have unfortunately been targeted for their occupation. The diversion of law enforcement officers from normal duties has left some sought of a vacuum that has allowed Mexican cartels to become more lawless.