El Chapo's family to cover costs of those killed in botched arrest

18 October 2019, 23:46 | Updated: 19 October 2019, 06:04

The family of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman have said they will cover the expenses of those injured and killed during a failed attempt to capture his son in Mexico.

At least eight died and more than 20 were injured after National Guard officers were overpowered by heavily armed gangsters as they tried to apprehend Ovidio Guzman on charges of trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Jose Luis Gonzalez Mesa, a lawyer for Guzman's family, said: "The family apologises to the people of Sinaloa, and particularly to the people of Culiacan. However many there were, man, no problem, they will help them economically."

A civilian, a member of the National Guard, an escaped inmate and five attackers were among those who lost their lives, and officials fear the death toll could rise.

Ovidio Guzman ended up walking free as the police retreated to prevent loss of life.

A heavy gun battle took place on the streets of the city following the botched operation, with members of Guzman's cartel attempting to take control of the city from security forces.

Mexico's government has admitted that the operation was bungled - and at a news conference on Friday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said: "The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people. You cannot fight fire with fire. We do not want deaths. We do not want war."

Lopez Obrador has been fiercely criticised by security experts for his stance, as it could encourage copycat incidents and more bloodshed in future.

Mike Vigil, a former executive at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, described the violence as a "massive black eye" for Mexico's government, adding: "This is going to set an example for the other groups.

"It sends them the message that if they capture a member of the cartel, all they have to do is go in the city and intimidate the citizenry and security forces."

Mexico's defence minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval admitted: "It was done hastily, the consequences were not considered, the riskiest part wasn't taken into account."

Security minister Alfonso Durazo also acknowledged the National Guard's sting was a "failure" - and he said that he and top brass in the military had not been informed about the operation owing to a bureaucratic error.

During the unrest, cartel gunmen blocked main roads and seizing toll booths, with others occupying major junctions.

Some of the cartel gunmen even turned their fire on to a housing complex where the wives and children of soldiers live, in an effort to show their power and influence.

As a result of the frenzy in the city, 56 inmates at the local prison rioted, seized weapons and escaped, with 49 still at large on Friday.

Lopez Obrador set up the National Guard to replace the federal police and take in thousands of soldiers, but instead many of them are working an immigration beat as a result of US President Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal migration through the country and over the country's shared border.

The shootout became the third clash in less than a week between police and cartel gunmeno.

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