Botched capture of El Chapo's son stemmed from US warrant; drug lord's family to compensate victims' families

Mexico’s botched effort to capture one of infamous druglord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons was the result of an arrest warrant from the U.S., according to a report.

Wild gun battles Thursday in the northern city of Culiacan – the capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state -- led to Ovidio Guzman Lopez’s release from custody and the deaths of 8 people. The gunfire also left more than 20 people wounded.

As the smoke cleared, Sky News reported El Chapo’s family was offering to compensate those who died and were wounded during the gunfire that pitted outnumbered militarized police and National Guard members against heavily armed gunmen with the violent Sinaloa cartel.

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

Ovidio Guzman was released as the police retreated to prevent loss of life.

A burning bus, set alight by cartel gunmen to block a road, is pictured 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. 

A burning bus, set alight by cartel gunmen to block a road, is pictured 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)

Three dozen troops arrived at a home Thursday afternoon armed with an arrest warrant from the U.S. to apprehend Ovidio Guzmán, according to the New York Post.

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El Chapo lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman confirmed the warrant had been signed by a federal judge in Washington D.C., although he said details of what went down afterward were still murky.

“It’s unclear what exactly happened,” Lichtman told the paper, adding that Ovidio was safe and not in custody.

“As soon as the smoke clears, we’ll endeavor to figure out exactly what happened here,” he said, according to the paper.

A burnt-out truck used by gunmen smolders on an intersection, a day after street battles between gunmen and security forces in Culiacan, Mexico, Friday Oct. 18, 2019. 

A burnt-out truck used by gunmen smolders on an intersection, a day after street battles between gunmen and security forces in Culiacan, Mexico, Friday Oct. 18, 2019.  (AP)

The arrest warrant was issued after Ovidio Guzman and an older brother were charged in a 2018 indictment with a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana for importation into the United States.

The indictment unsealed 8 months ago charged Ovidio Guzman, 28, and Joaquin Guzman Lopez, with engaging in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the U.S. over a 10 year period.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday defended the decision to let Ovidio Guzman go free.

“This decision was made to protect citizens,” he said. “You cannot fight fire with fire,” he added. “We do not want deaths. We do not want war.”

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But Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who worked undercover in Mexico, called the violence "a massive black eye to the Mexican government" and a "sign that the cartels are more powerful" than it is.