The afternoon of October 17, 2019, opened a moment of crisis for the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after an operation to arrest Ovidio Guzmán sparked violent events in Culiacán, Sinaloa. Mexican authorities deployed actions against Chapo's son to comply with an arrest warrant from the US government but were confronted with the reaction of members of the Sinaloa Cartel.

During that day in the capital of Sinaloa, armed men set fire to vehicles, blocked streets, and attacked soldiers' homes. The security cabinet offered a first version of the events, in which it assured that federal elements had found Ovidio Guzmán while carrying out a routine patrol. However, the authorities soon after retracted this statement and acknowledged that from the beginning they were looking to arrest the son of "Chapo", who has already been sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States.

Ovidio Guzmán López is one of Joaquín Guzmán Loera's sons and his godfather is Ismael 'el Mayo' Zambada, another leader of the Sinaloa Cartel who is still at large. Until before the raid, 'El Ratón' maintained a more discreet profile unlike his half-brothers, Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar. Ovidio Guzmán is 31 years old and his mother is Griselda López Pérez, one of 'El Chapo' Guzmán's wives.

Ovidio Guzmán is not wanted by the Mexican government, but he is wanted by the U.S. government. The son of 'El Chapo' has an arrest warrant against him for the crimes of criminal association to distribute drugs.

On October 17, 2019, less than five hours passed from the beginning of the operation in which Ovidio Guzmán was captured until he was released. To arrest him, between 30 and 35 elements of the Military Ministerial Police and the Anti-Drug Division of the extinct Federal Police, which became part of the National Guard, were deployed. That afternoon, Ovidio was located in the Tres Ríos subdivision in Culiacán, just five kilometers from the Sinaloa Attorney General's Office, according to authorities.

Although they surrounded the property where Ovidio was being held, they did not enter because they did not have a search warrant. While they surrounded the place, a violent reaction from the Sinaloa Cartel was unleashed, which generated pressure on the federal government and finally led it to make the decision to stop the operation and free Chapo's son. Before canceling the operation, the military who were going to arrest Ovidio asked him to order a ceasefire.

The Mexican government released a video in which Ovidio is seen talking on the phone with his allies and asking for an end to the violence. "Stop everything, calm down, no way," he is heard saying in the recording. Given the level of violence in Culiacán, President López Obrador gave the order to suspend the operation, as he acknowledged at the time. López Obrador maintains that if he had not made that decision, the lives of up to 200 civilians would have been put at risk.

The official balance of that afternoon of violence was eight people dead -a civilian, a guard, an inmate, and five aggressors-, 19 blockades, 14 aggressions to National Guard elements, and seven wounded soldiers. There was no estimate of the cost of the material damage, nor was it reported that those who participated in the aggressions were subsequently detained.

After what happened two years ago, their whereabouts are still unknown. Although Ovidio Guzmán is still wanted by the U.S. government, there is no arrest warrant for him in Mexico, according to authorities. Politically, Ovidio Guzman's release continues to be criticized by opposition parties, who accuse the Lopez Obrador administration and the Attorney General's Office (FGR) of being lax with organized crime and persecuting sectors that are uncomfortable for them.

Non-party senator Emilio Álvarez Icaza said at the end of September that the FGR has no arrest warrant against Chapo's son, but it does seek to arrest 31 scientists and former officials of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt). Meanwhile, President López Obrador insists on defending his decision to let Ovidio Guzmán go so as not to generate more violence and avoid risking lives, and maintains that his administration does not ally itself with criminals.

"A war was about to break out": Lopez Obrador reaffirms decision to free Ovidio Guzman

López Obrador recalled the failed operation to capture the son of "El Chapo" Guzmán, in which the decision was finally made to let him go, after members of the Sinaloa Cartel threatened the government by carrying out a massacre in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa; if they did not let Ovidio Guzmán go. He said that this is one of the most emblematic episodes he has had to face during these months in office, and he reiterated his conviction of the decision he made since it was to save lives. He also said, "It is no humiliation to avoid violence".

"The Army, the Navy, who are helping us, are acting to protect, to respect human rights. And it is not a humiliation in any way to avoid violence. I believe that in all cases we must avoid the loss of human life. The most emblematic case, the one we had to deal with, was the arrest of an alleged criminal in Sinaloa, Octavio... Ovidio Guzmán, who, because of his characteristics, because of the circumstances, if he remained in the hands of the Armed Forces, a war would be unleashed, an armed confrontation in which more than 200 human beings could lose their lives, we decided to stop that operation. And I think it was done very well, very well because after such bloodshed the government would be left with very little moral authority and the most important thing of all is to act with rectitude, in good faith, with the moral authority to have political authority, even more so when you are in a process of transformation because what we cannot put at risk is the transformation of Mexico," he said.

Ovidio Guzman and his brother Ivan Archivaldo Guzman are allegedly being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington for importing drugs into the neighboring country and international drug trafficking activities. "El Ratón" also appears in several judicial and Treasury records in the United States for money laundering activities.