A passenger plane in Culiacán, Mexico took on gunfire moments before takeoff on Thursday as the Mexican military captured the son of the notorious former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. The former cartel boss’s son, Ovidio Guzmán, was not aboard the Aeromexico flight caught in the crossfire, but the plane in question was taxiing for takeoff when military planes landing on the airstrip nearby drew fire from the cartel, according to Reuters.
Passengers aboard the plane threw themselves onto the floor to avoid being shot as the plane abandoned the runway and returned to the gate, where the crew scrambled to get the passengers to safety. A flight attendant said the engine had been shot, triggering a leak and compounding the danger — as if being caught in the shootout wasn’t enough. No passengers were harmed as they disembarked, but it was a chaotic scene nonetheless:
Mexican plane hit after drug lord detention
All commercial flights in and out of the Culiacán airport were suspended as airline crews led travelers to windowless waiting rooms, away from the tarmac where the military craft was taking heavy fire from a convoy of cartel vehicles.
There were 25 vehicles in the convoy, some with truck-mounted .50-caliber machine guns according to the Associated Press. The army sent Blackhawk helicopters to stop the cartel vehicles, but two gunships were shot down after taking on “a significant number of impacts.”
The cartel opened fire on the airstrip where the Mexican Air Force landed large transports not only to kill Mexican troops, but to try to stop any planes from leaving: cartel members incorrectly assumed Guzmán would be taken out of the city by plane, so they attacked three of the city’s airports.