But Security Minister Alfonso Durazo has told Reuters that he was later released, saying the decision was taken to protect lives.
According to CNN affiliate ADN40, armored vehicles with military-grade machinery exchanged heavy artillery against federal troops in Culiacan, in the heart of Sinaloa.
The shootout forced many residents to flee in panic, others remained locked in their homes while outside, troops engaged in intense gun battles throughout the day. Residents have been asked to stay inside and schools have been closed until further notice, officials said, according to ADN40.
Images on social media appeared to show the terror unleashed on the inhabitants of Culiacan. Plumes of black smoke billowed on the horizon while on the ground, mothers coddled their children while searching for cover behind parked cars.
Late Thursday Durazo said government operations in Culiacan had been suspended following a violent back and forth between federal entities and criminal groups.
Durazo said that law enforcement officers and members of the Mexican National Guard were conducting a routine patrol when they were attacked by people inside a home in the city at around 3:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. ET).
The patrol unit fought back and took control of the house, finding four occupants inside. Authorities identified one of the occupants as Ovidio Guzman Lopez.
During the confrontation, other members of an organized criminal group arrived on scene, with more firepower than authorities. Violent attacks also erupted in different parts of the city creating “a situation of panic,” Durazo said.
With the “purpose of safeguarding the security and tranquility of the Culiacan society, the officials of the Cabinet of Security agreed to suspend said actions.”
Who is Ovidio Guzman Lopez?
Prosecutors said that from April 2008 through April 2018, the brothers conspired to distribute cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine from Mexico and other places to be imported into the US.
“In fact, Chapo’s sons are now risen through the ranks of the Sinaloa cartel and taken over Chapo’s end of the organization,” he said.
CNN’s Natalie Gallón reported from Mexico City, Leyla Santiago reported from Washington DC, Maria Santana reported from New York, Helena DeMoura reported from Atlanta and Helen Regan wrote from Hong Kong.