Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he personally ordered the release of Ovidio Guzman. One of the sons of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, after his brief detention during a military operation.
Chaos during the operation caused Lopez Obrador’s government considerable embarrassment in October as security forces briefly captured Ovidio Guzman in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, only to let him go hours later as security forces were overwhelmed by cartel forces.
Lopez Obrador had previously said his security cabinet made the call to release Guzman. A decision he said he endorsed to protect terrorized residents from the crossfire between cartel henchmen and security forces.
On Friday was the first time the Mexican president openly acknowledged having given the order himself.
Lopez Obrador added that a couple days later U.S. President Donald Trump offered to help crack down on the cartel, but Mexico did not accept.
The United States continues to seek Ovidio Guzman’s extradition.
Despite Lopez Obrador’s promises to tame spiraling violence with policies focused on relieving rampant poverty and youth unemployment, homicides in Mexico have climbed to record levels during the first four months of this year.
In 2019, the president’s first full year in office, homicides hit an all-time high.