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Mexican president defends decision to free drug kingpin's son days after arrest

Published:Saturday | October 19, 2019 | 10:08 AM
Lopez Obrador...The capture of a criminal is not worth more than people's lives.

President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has defended his government’s decision to free the son of imprisoned drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Ovidio Guzman Lopez was arrested on a warrant in the city of Culiacan on Thursday, but this quickly triggered deadly street fights between cartel gunmen and the security forces.

Authorities say at least eight people were killed and 16 wounded, with vehicles left burning in the streets.

The Mexican leader says the decision to cancel the arrest has saved lives.

Speaking at a news conference, he disclosed that senior security officials had decided on Guzman’s release.

"The officials who took this decision did well. The capture of a criminal is not worth more than people's lives."

A lawyer for the Guzman family described Lopez Obrador as "human" and "Christian".

“He had decided not to cause Ovidio harm", the attorney, Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza, told journalists.

There was no negotiation to free him, he added.

Lopez Obrador was elected on a platform of cracking down on Mexico's drug cartels and has tasked the National Guard -- a new security force -- with fighting the dealers.

El Chapo was convicted in US federal court earlier this year and given a lengthy prison sentence.

American authorities believe Ovidio Guzman Lopez is one of several brothers with a hand in running their father’s operation.

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