Mexico will arrest kingpin's son provided public not at risk: president

FILE PHOTO: Cartel gunmen are seen outside during clashes with federal forces following the detention of Ovidio Guzman, son of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, Mexico October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s president said Monday his government still intends to arrest Ovidio Guzman, son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, once it can do so safely after the suspected trafficker’s forces waged gun battles with authorities in the northwestern city of Culiacan.

The younger Guzman was briefly detained on Thursday in Culiacan, in the state of Sinaloa. He was released after officials realized they were outmatched.

Lopez Obrador said the decision to free Ovidio Guzman halted the shootings and saved lives, and he would order another apprehension provided there is an arrest warrant for the operation and that the public is not put in danger.

“People’s lives must be looked after,” he said.

Mexicans were divided over the decision to free Guzman and widely skeptical over the government’s ability to contain escalating violence, according to an Oct. 18-20 phone survey of 400 adults published on Monday by newspaper Reforma.

It found that 49% of respondents disagreed with the decision to release Guzman, while 45% agreed with it. The poll also showed 56% of respondents felt that organized crime was stronger than the government, while one third took the opposite view.

(The story is refiled to remove extraneous word in second paragraph)

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Dave Graham and David Gregorio