Culiacan: Fantasy returns to normal in Sinaloa after another war against drug traffickers

There was tension surrounding the first flight to land in Culiacan this Friday. No one has arrived since the last 24 hours when the state was put under complete lockdown and the doors of the airport were closed. Shooting in commission of a premeditated crime A Mexican military aircraft and commercial Aeromexico aircraft. A dozen shootings and drug busts They scared people enough that no one wanted to travel to Sinaloa this Friday morning. Neither the airlines, nor the travelers had their itineraries ready. The Volaris plane, one of the few companies that dared to travel, was two-thirds empty, with only a handful of locals and a handful of journalists who wanted to go home. Dona Ana, who lives in the city with her son – a fictitious name for security reasons – says “we can go, but with great fear, we want to lock ourselves in with the family”.

From Thursday morning to Friday morning, Sinaloa spent 24 hours on fire. At four in the morning on Thursday, the first signs of renewed fighting came from a farm in the town of Jesús Maria, 45 kilometers from the state capital Culiacan. They caught one of the darlings of the Sinaloa cartel. Ovidio Guzmán, from Fraction little boys. Like 2019, when the security forces first caught Joaquin’s son El Chapo Guzmán said organized crime’s response was to shut down the company for the day until they were released. This time they did not succeed and on the second Black Thursday in the state’s recent history, 29 people died35 wounded and 21 prisoners.

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Culiacan was the epicenter of an imaginary return to normalcy this Friday. A few shops were open and a few cars were plying the streets, while the charred remains of trucks and cars lay on one side. The fires that terrorized an entire city continued to emit the smell of gasoline mixed with burnt oil hours later. A handful of policemen guarded hospitals where organized crime on Thursday tried to kidnap doctors who could treat injured criminals at their hideouts. Another few soldiers guarded the forensic medical service so that the cartel could not retrieve the bodies of fallen members. A few kilometers from there, the remains of cars in the hands of armed men continued, but in very small numbers, something daily for the population of one of the most dangerous states of Mexico.

Returning to a fictional life 45 kilometers from the state capital, Jesus Maria barely reached the town. Few dare to look past that corner dominated by drug trafficking and where Ovidio Guzmán grew up any day. A journalist who did not want to be named did so the day after the war broke out. He describes it as one of the “hardest” tasks he’s ever had to do in his career. There he found a city besieged by armed forces without communications, electricity or food.

Films worth revisiting A battle scene. “Houses had impacts from guns, carpets of shell casings. Neighbors wanted us to know: ‘The authorities say nothing is wrong, but my neighbor has a stray bullet.’ If there’s one thing those people have, it’s fear”. Along the way, he saw a dozen live bombs, ready to explode, and the bodies of two young men, lifeless, lying in a pile of rubble. In the background, already empty and with the doors wide open, the Guzmán house. On Thursday, the full battle began. Found, but not the end.

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A cyclist passes the remains of a burnt car in the Tres Rios sector in Culiacan.Gladys Serrano

At the airport, after a chaotic hour, only a few shops were open and there were few visitors. The presence of armed forces is almost non-existent. Viva Aerobus employee Brian Alonso returned to work after the worst day of his life. He recalled that around seven o’clock on Thursday morning, they started hearing gunshots at the airport gate. “They came from there, where the National Guard stands forever,” he says. People started screaming and running and hiding. No one understood what was going on and organized crime had never gone as far.

Alonso recounts that many passengers sought refuge with airline workers behind the counter. Another airport employee says the criminals surrounded the area and started shooting at the planes through a loophole around the landing and take-off runways, with the facilities inaccessible. They wanted to prevent security forces from taking Guzmán out of Sinaloa.

Failure to halt military action provoked retaliation. Organized crime took to the streets with all its might. Dozens of criminals subdued for hours a population accustomed to living with the monster of organized crime. But what happened on Thursday was more than the violence they see everyday: it was the rage of a drug lord. They blocked at least 19 points across the state, and at those checkpoints, at gunpoint, they confiscated citizens’ cars and journalists’ cellphones. They threatened passers-by, set fire to dozens of vehicles and shot dead policemen they encountered on the road.

Despite people’s fear of going out, dozens of people approached the prosecutor’s office this Friday to report their car stolen. Cecilia Machado was one of the victims. A 29-year-old woman working for the Mexican Social Security Agency (IMSS) was on her way to give milk to her daughter when a van cut her off and two men, about 25, got out with guns in their hands. They left her helpless and took away her vehicle. “The boy told me: ‘This is part of my job,'” he recounted at the gates of the prosecutor’s office, “I was very nervous, I don’t know how to steal.” A couple at the site took her home so she wouldn’t be left unprotected on the street. “It’s so ugly, it’s already scary to go out, I didn’t go with my child, but I was scared,” she says with a broken voice.

A man sitting on the sidewalk of a prosecutor’s office says he picked up a truck from his boss who was driving on the highway to Batiraguado, the birthplace of Guzmán’s father, one of the founders of the Sinaloa cartel. Around 5:40 am, a ten-man armed commando ambushed him to take away his vehicle. “One is afraid of what is going to happen to him if he gets out on the street,” says the driver, who did not want to be named out of fear. A few hours later, they found the truck “all burnt” a few meters from where it was taken from them. This Friday despite the panic he faced outside, he had to leave his home to report the robbery. Rumors of an even bigger revenge never stopped circulating. “It’s scary, but you have to push through life, you have nothing at home.”

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