Battle of Culiacán

Battle of Culiacán
Part of the Mexican Drug War
Date 17 October 2019

Sinaloa Cartel victory



Sinaloa Cartel
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Ismael Zambada
Unknown ~700[1]

The Battle of Culiacán[2][3] was a failed operation by the Mexican National Guard to capture Ovidio Guzmán López (son of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán), who is wanted in the United States for drug trafficking.

On 17 October 2019, a large convoy of vehicles drove up to Guzmán López's house in Culiacán based on an extradition warrant from a US judge when it came under fire. The military succeeded in capturing Guzmán López, but quickly found themselves surrounded by cartel enforcers.

Around 700 cartel gunmen[1] began to attack civilian, government and military targets around the city, and massive towers of smoke could be seen rising from burning cars and vehicles. The cartels were well-equipped, with armored vehicles, bulletproof vests, .50 caliber rifles, rocket launchers, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.[4]In the end, Guzmán López was released after the cartel took multiple hostages, including eight servicemen[5] and the housing unit where the military's families lived in Culiacán.[6]

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador defended the decision to release Guzmán López, arguing it prevented further loss of life,[7] insisting that he wanted to pacify the country and did not want more massacres,[8] and arguing that the capture of one drug smuggler could not be more valuable than the lives of innocent civilians.[9] While admitting that the security forces underestimated the Cartel's manpower and ability to respond,[10] López Obrador also clarified that the criminal process against Guzmán López is still ongoing,[11] sending 8000 troops and police reinforcements to restore peace in Culiacan.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Y la entidad, con al menos 8,000 soldados, policías y de la GN" [And the entity, with at least 8,000 soldiers, police and the GN]. El Economista (in Spanish). 20 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Mexico's Drug War: The Battle of Culiacán". Time. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  3. ^ Castañeda, Jorge G. (23 October 2019). "Opinion: The Bigger Story Behind the Humiliating Release of El Chapo's Son". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2019. The battle of Culiacán illustrates that the Sinaloa cartel is no weaker today than before the war on drugs began. [...] Days before the battle of Culiacán, 14 policemen were massacred in the town of Aguililla, in the state of Michoacán [...]
  4. ^ ARES team (18 October 2019). "Weapons used by Sinaloa Cartel sicarios in Culiacán, Mexico". The Hoplite. Armament Research Services. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  5. ^ Linthicum, Kate (18 October 2019). "Eight killed in Mexico as cartel gunmen force authorities to release El Chapo's son". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Durante operativo en Culiacán, sicarios atacaron unidad habitacional militar" [During operation in Culiacán, hitmen attacked military housing unit]. Uno TV (in Spanish). 30 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  7. ^ "El Chapo: Mexican president says police 'did right' to free drug lord's son". BBC News. 18 October 2019.
  8. ^ Rodríguez García, Arturo (14 October 2019). "Trabajamos para pacificar el país sin guerra, exterminios ni masacres, dice AMLO" [We work to pacify the country without war, extermination or massacres, says AMLO]. Proceso (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  9. ^ "No vale más captura que vida de personas-AMLO" [Capture is not worth more than life of people-AMLO]. Reforma (in Spanish). 18 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Soldados de luto, mexicanos divididos por la decisión de AMLO de liberar al hijo de 'El Chapo'" [Mourning soldiers, Mexicans divided by AMLO's decision to free the son of 'El Chapo']. Chicago Tribune (in Spanish). Associated Press. 21 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  11. ^ "AMLO dice que sigue orden de extradición contra Ovidio Guzmán; "no se cancela"" [AMLO says extradition order against Ovidio Guzmán continues; "it is not canceled"]. Milenio (in Spanish). 31 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.

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