Left-wing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has admitted to personally ordering the release of the son of infamous drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán in October.
Ovidio Guzmán López, a senior figure within the notorious Sinaloa Cartel organization, was captured by Mexican Federal Police in October, but they were later surrounded by hundreds of heavily armed cartel gunmen in Culiacán, Sinaloa.
The gunmen set up flaming roadblocks in the streets and unleashed gunfire on Federal Police positions.
López Obrador then ordered Ovidio’s release, supposedly to save the lives of the officers who had captured him.
“So as not to put the population at risk I ordered that this operation be stopped and that this alleged criminal be released,” López Obrador claimed.
“If we hadn’t suspended, more than 200 innocent people would have lost their lives.”
Ovidio is wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges. López Obrador’s administration has been accused of taking a soft approach to drug cartels in Mexico, with López Obrador describing his policy as “hugs, not bullets”.
President Trump has often focused on the close relationship between Mexican government officials and the notorious drug cartels flooding the United States with illegal aliens and opioids, including fentanyl.
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump famously declared in 2015 while announcing his presidential campaign. “And some, I assume, are good people.”
Bloomberg reports Trump and Attorney General William Barr have attempted to urge Mexico to take stronger action against the cartels:
President Donald Trump is pushing Mexico to do more to confront drug cartels over concerns about narcotics and violence coming from the U.S. southern border — topics that lead the agenda for a visit by his top law enforcement official on Thursday.
Mexican officials on Thursday are hosting Attorney General William Barr in Mexico City for the second time in as many months, the latest instance of an ongoing conversation between the two countries. A Department of Justice official said the purpose of Barr’s trip is to have high-level meetings on joint counter-narcotics efforts.
On his visit in early December, Barr pressed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration to extradite suspects to face charges in the U.S., according to three people familiar with the conversations who asked not to be named speaking publicly.