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US imposes tariffs on EU goods, targeting Airbus, wine and whisky

The United States imposed tariffs on a record $7.5-billion worth of European Union goods on Friday, despite threats of retaliation, with A...

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US imposes tariffs on EU goods, targeting Airbus, wine and whisky

US imposes tariffs on EU goods, targeting Airbus, wine and whisky

The United States imposed tariffs on a record $7.5-billion worth of European Union goods on Friday, despite threats of retaliation, with Airbus, French wine and Scottish whiskies among the high-profile targets.

The tariffs, which took effect just after midnight in Washington (0401 GMT), came after talks between European officials and US trade representatives failed to win a last-minute reprieve.

The WTO-endorsed onslaught from US President Donald Trump also comes as Washington is mired in a trade war with China and could risk destabilising the global economy further.

In the line of fire are civilian aircraft from Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- the countries that formed Airbus -- which will now cost 10 percent more when imported to the US.

But the tariffs also target consumer products such as French wine, which Trump had vowed to attack in recent months. Wine from France, Spain and Germany will now face 25 percent tariffs.

Speaking in Washington hours before the tariffs were due to come into effect, France's Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the move would have serious repercussions.

"Europe is ready to retaliate, in the framework of course of the WTO," he told reporters shortly after meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund annual meetings.

"These decisions would have very negative consequences both from an economic and a political point of view."

Le Maire was due to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer later on Friday.

He also warned the US against starting another front in its trade conflicts and again called for a negotiated solution.

At a time when the global economy is slowing, "I think that our responsibility is to do our best to avoid that kind of conflict," Le Maire said.

The Europeans have long advocated negotiation over conflict and they themselves will be able to impose tariffs next year to punish the United States for subsidising Boeing.

But EU officials had already offered in July to call a truce on subsidies for planemakers, in which both sides would admit fault and agree to curtail state aid -- to no avail. The two sides have been involved in a row over the subsidies for 15 years.

The tariffs kick in just days after the United States was given the formal go-ahead by the World Trade Organization.

As recently as Wednesday, Trump singled out the Europeans for being unfair with the US on trade, but said his door was open to negotiate a settlement.

- 'Very hard' -

The Europeans fear above all that Trump will impose heavy duties on imports of European cars around mid-November.

This would be a serious blow for the German automotive sector in particular, even if giants such as Volkswagen or BMW also manufacture in the United States.

"Our products are very hard to bring in (to Europe)" when Europeans easily import their cars into the United States, Trump said.

The Airbus-Boeing row is just one of several issues stoking transatlantic tensions that quickly descended into acrimony when Trump took office in 2017.

Trump embraced a protectionist agenda, slapping import duties on steel and aluminium from the EU and other allies, while also threatening tariffs on cars.

Trade groups in Europe such as winemakers, German tool manufacturers and whisky producers in Scotland have kept a clamour of protest, demanding Washington reverse tack.

The US leader and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed in July 2018 to a ceasefire in the conflict to hold trade talks that have so far led nowhere.

The epic legal battle between Airbus and Boeing at the World Trade Organization began in 2004 when Washington accused Britain, France, Germany and Spain of providing illegal subsidies and grants to support the production of a range of Airbus products.

A year later, the EU alleged that Boeing had received $19.1 billion worth of prohibited subsidies from 1989 to 2006 from various branches of the US government.

The two cases were then tangled up in a legal quagmire, with each side being given partial vindication after a long series of appeals and counter appeals.


The United States imposed tariffs on a record $7.5-billion worth of European Union goods on Friday, despite threats of retaliation, with Airbus, French wine and Scottish whiskies among the high-profile targets.

The tariffs, which took effect just after midnight in Washington (0401 GMT), came after talks between European officials and US trade representatives failed to win a last-minute reprieve.

The WTO-endorsed onslaught from US President Donald Trump also comes as Washington is mired in a trade war with China and could risk destabilising the global economy further.

In the line of fire are civilian aircraft from Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- the countries that formed Airbus -- which will now cost 10 percent more when imported to the US.

But the tariffs also target consumer products such as French wine, which Trump had vowed to attack in recent months. Wine from France, Spain and Germany will now face 25 percent tariffs.

Speaking in Washington hours before the tariffs were due to come into effect, France's Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the move would have serious repercussions.

"Europe is ready to retaliate, in the framework of course of the WTO," he told reporters shortly after meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund annual meetings.

"These decisions would have very negative consequences both from an economic and a political point of view."

Le Maire was due to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer later on Friday.

He also warned the US against starting another front in its trade conflicts and again called for a negotiated solution.

At a time when the global economy is slowing, "I think that our responsibility is to do our best to avoid that kind of conflict," Le Maire said.

The Europeans have long advocated negotiation over conflict and they themselves will be able to impose tariffs next year to punish the United States for subsidising Boeing.

But EU officials had already offered in July to call a truce on subsidies for planemakers, in which both sides would admit fault and agree to curtail state aid -- to no avail. The two sides have been involved in a row over the subsidies for 15 years.

The tariffs kick in just days after the United States was given the formal go-ahead by the World Trade Organization.

As recently as Wednesday, Trump singled out the Europeans for being unfair with the US on trade, but said his door was open to negotiate a settlement.

- 'Very hard' -

The Europeans fear above all that Trump will impose heavy duties on imports of European cars around mid-November.

This would be a serious blow for the German automotive sector in particular, even if giants such as Volkswagen or BMW also manufacture in the United States.

"Our products are very hard to bring in (to Europe)" when Europeans easily import their cars into the United States, Trump said.

The Airbus-Boeing row is just one of several issues stoking transatlantic tensions that quickly descended into acrimony when Trump took office in 2017.

Trump embraced a protectionist agenda, slapping import duties on steel and aluminium from the EU and other allies, while also threatening tariffs on cars.

Trade groups in Europe such as winemakers, German tool manufacturers and whisky producers in Scotland have kept a clamour of protest, demanding Washington reverse tack.

The US leader and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed in July 2018 to a ceasefire in the conflict to hold trade talks that have so far led nowhere.

The epic legal battle between Airbus and Boeing at the World Trade Organization began in 2004 when Washington accused Britain, France, Germany and Spain of providing illegal subsidies and grants to support the production of a range of Airbus products.

A year later, the EU alleged that Boeing had received $19.1 billion worth of prohibited subsidies from 1989 to 2006 from various branches of the US government.

The two cases were then tangled up in a legal quagmire, with each side being given partial vindication after a long series of appeals and counter appeals.


How China's growth slows to 6% in third quarter, weakest in 27 years

How China's growth slows to 6% in third quarter, weakest in 27 years


China's economy expanded at its slowest rate in nearly three decades during the third quarter as it was hit by the long-running US trade war and cooling domestic demand, data showed Friday, with an official warning of "mounting downward pressure".

With China a key driver of global growth, the soft reading added to concerns about the world economy and prompted speculation that authorities will unveil fresh stimulus following a series of other measures in recent months.

Gross domestic product expanded 6.0 percent in July-September, from 6.2 percent in the second quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The reading -- in line with an AFP survey of 13 analysts -- is the worst quarterly figure since 1992 but within the government's target range of 6.0-6.5 percent for the whole year. The economy grew 6.6 percent in 2018.

While NBS spokesman Mao Shengyong said the economy was showing stability, he warned: "We must be aware that given the complicated and severe economic conditions both at home and abroad, the slowing global economic growth, and increasing external instabilities and uncertainties, the economy is under mounting downward pressure."

Services and high-tech manufacturing were the key areas of growth, while employment was "generally stable", he added.

- Propping up economy -

Beijing has stepped up support for the economy with major tax cuts and measures making it easier for banks to increase lending, including a reduction in the amount of cash they must keep in reserve.

And on Wednesday the central People's Bank of China said it would pump 200 billion yuan ($28 billion) into the financial system through its medium-term lending facility to banks, to maintain liquidity.

But the efforts have not been enough to offset the blow from softening demand at home, which highlights the struggle leaders have in their drive to recalibrate the economy from one driven by exports and investment to one built on consumer spending.

The trade conflict and weak domestic demand prompted the International Monetary Fund to lower its 2019 growth forecast for China to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent on Tuesday.

The figures are the latest to indicate a softening in the economy.

This week, Beijing posted weaker-than-expected import and export figures for September, after Washington imposed new tariffs in their long-running trade war.

And on Friday data showed industrial output rose 5.8 percent, from 4.4 percent in August, led by a surge in demand for solar panels and electric vehicles, according to the NBS.

But fixed-asset investment slid to 5.4 percent on-year in January-September, from 5.5 percent in January-August, as the government warned against risky borrowing to build roads and bridges that could artificially pump up GDP in the short run.

China's army of consumers were starting to open their wallets again, with retail sales edging up 7.8 percent on-year in September, compared with 7.5 percent in August.

Figures last week showed activity in the crucial manufacturing sector continued to contract last month as a result of the trade spat.

The readings show an economy that is "struggling to generate demand on a domestic level", said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Infrastructure spending -- a major pillar of growth -- is also expected to decline as China tries to rein in toxic debt, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics,

The recent boom in property development is also "set to unwind," he added.

"We expect monetary policy to be loosened before long in response, but it will take time for this to put a floor beneath economic growth," Evans-Pritchard said in a note.

- Let's make a deal -

A "phase one" deal announced by US President Donald Trump last Friday after he met China's top negotiator Liu He in Washington offered a temporary reprieve from further tariff hikes.

NBS spokesman Mao said the mini-deal was "good sign" for global markets.

"We feel that the global economy and global trade are increasingly moving towards reducing protectionism and... freedom," he said.

The deal, however, did not roll back any of the stinging tariffs already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade between the economic powers, nor did it address another round of import taxes planned for December.

"A limited agreement will not resolve the underlying areas of disagreement between the two sides as long-term divergence in US and China national interest remains across trade, technology, investment and geopolitics," said Michael Taylor, a managing director for Moody's Investors Service.

China's commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday its negotiators have "accelerated efforts" to hammer out the details of this mini-deal, and the two sides were aiming for an "early agreement".

Trump had said Wednesday that he hopes to sign the deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Chile next month.


China's economy expanded at its slowest rate in nearly three decades during the third quarter as it was hit by the long-running US trade war and cooling domestic demand, data showed Friday, with an official warning of "mounting downward pressure".

With China a key driver of global growth, the soft reading added to concerns about the world economy and prompted speculation that authorities will unveil fresh stimulus following a series of other measures in recent months.

Gross domestic product expanded 6.0 percent in July-September, from 6.2 percent in the second quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The reading -- in line with an AFP survey of 13 analysts -- is the worst quarterly figure since 1992 but within the government's target range of 6.0-6.5 percent for the whole year. The economy grew 6.6 percent in 2018.

While NBS spokesman Mao Shengyong said the economy was showing stability, he warned: "We must be aware that given the complicated and severe economic conditions both at home and abroad, the slowing global economic growth, and increasing external instabilities and uncertainties, the economy is under mounting downward pressure."

Services and high-tech manufacturing were the key areas of growth, while employment was "generally stable", he added.

- Propping up economy -

Beijing has stepped up support for the economy with major tax cuts and measures making it easier for banks to increase lending, including a reduction in the amount of cash they must keep in reserve.

And on Wednesday the central People's Bank of China said it would pump 200 billion yuan ($28 billion) into the financial system through its medium-term lending facility to banks, to maintain liquidity.

But the efforts have not been enough to offset the blow from softening demand at home, which highlights the struggle leaders have in their drive to recalibrate the economy from one driven by exports and investment to one built on consumer spending.

The trade conflict and weak domestic demand prompted the International Monetary Fund to lower its 2019 growth forecast for China to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent on Tuesday.

The figures are the latest to indicate a softening in the economy.

This week, Beijing posted weaker-than-expected import and export figures for September, after Washington imposed new tariffs in their long-running trade war.

And on Friday data showed industrial output rose 5.8 percent, from 4.4 percent in August, led by a surge in demand for solar panels and electric vehicles, according to the NBS.

But fixed-asset investment slid to 5.4 percent on-year in January-September, from 5.5 percent in January-August, as the government warned against risky borrowing to build roads and bridges that could artificially pump up GDP in the short run.

China's army of consumers were starting to open their wallets again, with retail sales edging up 7.8 percent on-year in September, compared with 7.5 percent in August.

Figures last week showed activity in the crucial manufacturing sector continued to contract last month as a result of the trade spat.

The readings show an economy that is "struggling to generate demand on a domestic level", said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Infrastructure spending -- a major pillar of growth -- is also expected to decline as China tries to rein in toxic debt, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics,

The recent boom in property development is also "set to unwind," he added.

"We expect monetary policy to be loosened before long in response, but it will take time for this to put a floor beneath economic growth," Evans-Pritchard said in a note.

- Let's make a deal -

A "phase one" deal announced by US President Donald Trump last Friday after he met China's top negotiator Liu He in Washington offered a temporary reprieve from further tariff hikes.

NBS spokesman Mao said the mini-deal was "good sign" for global markets.

"We feel that the global economy and global trade are increasingly moving towards reducing protectionism and... freedom," he said.

The deal, however, did not roll back any of the stinging tariffs already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade between the economic powers, nor did it address another round of import taxes planned for December.

"A limited agreement will not resolve the underlying areas of disagreement between the two sides as long-term divergence in US and China national interest remains across trade, technology, investment and geopolitics," said Michael Taylor, a managing director for Moody's Investors Service.

China's commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday its negotiators have "accelerated efforts" to hammer out the details of this mini-deal, and the two sides were aiming for an "early agreement".

Trump had said Wednesday that he hopes to sign the deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Chile next month.

'Sporadic clashes' in Syria border town after Turkey announces truce: monitor

'Sporadic clashes' in Syria border town after Turkey announces truce: monitor

AFP Photo: Smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on October 18
Sporadic clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish groups were ongoing in a battleground Syrian border town on Friday, a monitor said, despite Ankara's announcement of a five-day truce.

"There are sporadic artillery strikes and you can hear shooting in the town of Ras al-Ain," said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He said both the Turkish military and its Syrian allies were involved in the fighting with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

An AFP journalist on the Turkish side of the border heard artillery fire and saw clouds of smoke in several places inside Syrian territory.

Ras al-Ain has been a major goal of the Turkish offensive since its launch on October 9 but the town's Kurdish defenders have put up fierce resistance.

Turkey announced a 120-hour suspension of its offensive late Thursday, and Abdul Rahman said there was a lull in fighting in much of the rest of northeastern Syria.

Under the deal reached after US Vice President Mike Pence flew to Ankara, Kurdish forces are required to withdraw from a border strip 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep, which will become the "safe zone" long sought by Turkey.

The SDF said they were "ready to abide by the ceasefire" in the border strip between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.


AFP Photo: Smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on October 18
Sporadic clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish groups were ongoing in a battleground Syrian border town on Friday, a monitor said, despite Ankara's announcement of a five-day truce.

"There are sporadic artillery strikes and you can hear shooting in the town of Ras al-Ain," said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He said both the Turkish military and its Syrian allies were involved in the fighting with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

An AFP journalist on the Turkish side of the border heard artillery fire and saw clouds of smoke in several places inside Syrian territory.

Ras al-Ain has been a major goal of the Turkish offensive since its launch on October 9 but the town's Kurdish defenders have put up fierce resistance.

Turkey announced a 120-hour suspension of its offensive late Thursday, and Abdul Rahman said there was a lull in fighting in much of the rest of northeastern Syria.

Under the deal reached after US Vice President Mike Pence flew to Ankara, Kurdish forces are required to withdraw from a border strip 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep, which will become the "safe zone" long sought by Turkey.

The SDF said they were "ready to abide by the ceasefire" in the border strip between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.


"Legal basis" an "absolute prerequisite" for digital monies like Libra, says G7

"Legal basis" an "absolute prerequisite" for digital monies like Libra, says G7



Washington, Oct 17 (AFP) Oct 17, 2019 : Facebook's proposed digital currency must have legal and regulatory issues worked out in key economies before it can be put into use, the Group of Seven economies said Thursday.

In a new report on stablecoins -- a type of digital currency backed by reserves assets -- the G7 also urged regulators to coordinate their work to prevent issuers from seeking out the most favorable country from which to operate.

"For stablecoin developers, a sound legal basis in all relevant jurisdictions... is an absolute prerequisite," according to the report from the G7 working group led by Benoit Coeure, a European Central Bank board member.

Facebook's Libra has generated intense scrutiny from officials worldwide who worry about the impact it could have on the financial system.

France's Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is due to hold a news conference to discuss the report's findings.

Digital currencies are ripe for use by terrorist organizations or for money laundering, so developers must have "legal clarity" about "all participants in the stablecoin ecosystem, such as coin holders and issuers," the report said.

They also pose other challenges to the financial system and to banks, if they are adopted widely.

"Ambiguous rights and obligations could make the stablecoin arrangement vulnerable to loss of confidence -- an unacceptable risk, especially in a payment system of potentially global importance," the report said.

The G7 called said national regulators "must coordinate across agencies, sectors and jurisdictions," to address the risks and "forestall harmful regulatory arbitrage."

"These risks, which are of a systemic nature, merit careful monitoring and further study," the report said.
Amid sharp regulatory scrutiny, the 21 firms backing Libra pledged on Monday to forge ahead with the project, shrugging off the defection of a quarter of its original members, including payments giants Visa and Mastercard, this month.

STABLECOINS AND PAYMENTS

In June, Facebook (FB.O) unveiled its Libra coin, a form of stablecoin backed by currencies from the dollar to the euro and government debt, in one of the most high-profile attempts to draw cryptocurrencies into the banking and corporate establishment their creators sought to subvert.

Stablecoins aim to overcome the extreme volatility that plagues cryptocurrencies and renders them impractical for commerce and payments.

Yet Libra drew immediate and sustained criticism. Policymakers voiced concerns about its potential to destabilize the global financial system and erode the power of countries to control monetary policy. Others said it could undermine users’ privacy.

The G7 report said authorities should apply to stablecoins existing rules on payments and anti-money laundering, as well as capital market and banking standards.

It added that new rules may be needed to deal with the emerging technology, with the Financial Stability Board - a body created after the 2008 financial crisis - assessing related regulatory issues before reporting to the Group of 20 wealthy nations in April.

Stablecoins had before Libra attracted virtually no attention from global policymakers, partly because of their relatively tiny size. The biggest, Tether, is only a fraction of the size of bitcoin, the No.1 cryptocurrency.

Facebook says Libra is designed to address inefficiencies in the global payments system, which is beset by high fees, lengthy transfer times and a lack of reliability. That hinders, and in many cases prevents, people from making cross-border payments, especially in developing countries.

The G7 said central banks, finance ministries and other authorities should work to address these weaknesses in payments systems. The public sector, it said, should step up efforts to bring people lacking access to banking services into the financial system.

It added that central banks, by themselves and in cooperation with one another, should look at issuing their own digital currencies.


Washington, Oct 17 (AFP) Oct 17, 2019 : Facebook's proposed digital currency must have legal and regulatory issues worked out in key economies before it can be put into use, the Group of Seven economies said Thursday.

In a new report on stablecoins -- a type of digital currency backed by reserves assets -- the G7 also urged regulators to coordinate their work to prevent issuers from seeking out the most favorable country from which to operate.

"For stablecoin developers, a sound legal basis in all relevant jurisdictions... is an absolute prerequisite," according to the report from the G7 working group led by Benoit Coeure, a European Central Bank board member.

Facebook's Libra has generated intense scrutiny from officials worldwide who worry about the impact it could have on the financial system.

France's Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is due to hold a news conference to discuss the report's findings.

Digital currencies are ripe for use by terrorist organizations or for money laundering, so developers must have "legal clarity" about "all participants in the stablecoin ecosystem, such as coin holders and issuers," the report said.

They also pose other challenges to the financial system and to banks, if they are adopted widely.

"Ambiguous rights and obligations could make the stablecoin arrangement vulnerable to loss of confidence -- an unacceptable risk, especially in a payment system of potentially global importance," the report said.

The G7 called said national regulators "must coordinate across agencies, sectors and jurisdictions," to address the risks and "forestall harmful regulatory arbitrage."

"These risks, which are of a systemic nature, merit careful monitoring and further study," the report said.
Amid sharp regulatory scrutiny, the 21 firms backing Libra pledged on Monday to forge ahead with the project, shrugging off the defection of a quarter of its original members, including payments giants Visa and Mastercard, this month.

STABLECOINS AND PAYMENTS

In June, Facebook (FB.O) unveiled its Libra coin, a form of stablecoin backed by currencies from the dollar to the euro and government debt, in one of the most high-profile attempts to draw cryptocurrencies into the banking and corporate establishment their creators sought to subvert.

Stablecoins aim to overcome the extreme volatility that plagues cryptocurrencies and renders them impractical for commerce and payments.

Yet Libra drew immediate and sustained criticism. Policymakers voiced concerns about its potential to destabilize the global financial system and erode the power of countries to control monetary policy. Others said it could undermine users’ privacy.

The G7 report said authorities should apply to stablecoins existing rules on payments and anti-money laundering, as well as capital market and banking standards.

It added that new rules may be needed to deal with the emerging technology, with the Financial Stability Board - a body created after the 2008 financial crisis - assessing related regulatory issues before reporting to the Group of 20 wealthy nations in April.

Stablecoins had before Libra attracted virtually no attention from global policymakers, partly because of their relatively tiny size. The biggest, Tether, is only a fraction of the size of bitcoin, the No.1 cryptocurrency.

Facebook says Libra is designed to address inefficiencies in the global payments system, which is beset by high fees, lengthy transfer times and a lack of reliability. That hinders, and in many cases prevents, people from making cross-border payments, especially in developing countries.

The G7 said central banks, finance ministries and other authorities should work to address these weaknesses in payments systems. The public sector, it said, should step up efforts to bring people lacking access to banking services into the financial system.

It added that central banks, by themselves and in cooperation with one another, should look at issuing their own digital currencies.

Fierce gun battle rocks "El Chapo" Guzman's bastion in Mexico

Fierce gun battle rocks "El Chapo" Guzman's bastion in Mexico


CULIACÁN (REUTERS) - Heavily armed cartel fighters surrounded security forces and made them free one of drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s sons, whose brief apprehension triggered intense gunbattles across the city of Culiacan.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said a patrol by National Guard militarised police first came under attack from within a house in the city, 600 km northwest of Mexico City.

After entering the house, they found four men including Ovidio Guzman, who is accused of drug trafficking in the United States.

The patrol was quickly overpowered by cartel gunmen, however, and the decision was taken to withdraw to protect the lives of the National Guard and restore calm in the city, where gangsters had set up roadblocks and were unleashing heavy automatic gunfire, Durazo said.

“The decision was taken to retreat from the house, without Guzman to try to avoid more violence in the area and preserve the lives of our personnel and recover calm in the city,” Durazo said.

The chaotic scenes in Culiacan, long a stronghold for the Guzmans’ Sinaloa cartel, will increase pressure on President Lopez Obrador, who took office in December promising to pacify a country weary after more than a decade of drug-war fighting.

Murders this year are set to be at a record high.

The scenes in Sinaloa follow the massacre of more than a dozen police in western Mexico earlier this week, and the killing of 14 suspected gangsters by the army a day later.

‘El Chapo’ Guzman led the Sinaloa cartel for decades, escaping from prison twice before being arrested and extradited to the United States.

He was found guilty in a US court in February of smuggling tons of drugs and sentenced to life in prison.

He is believed to have about 12 children including Ovidio.

The US Department of Justice unveiled an indictment against Ovidio and another of the brothers in February, charging them with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana in the United States.

The indictment gave Ovidio’s age as 28, and said he had been involved in trafficking conspiracies since he was a teenager.



CULIACÁN (REUTERS) - Heavily armed cartel fighters surrounded security forces and made them free one of drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s sons, whose brief apprehension triggered intense gunbattles across the city of Culiacan.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said a patrol by National Guard militarised police first came under attack from within a house in the city, 600 km northwest of Mexico City.

After entering the house, they found four men including Ovidio Guzman, who is accused of drug trafficking in the United States.

The patrol was quickly overpowered by cartel gunmen, however, and the decision was taken to withdraw to protect the lives of the National Guard and restore calm in the city, where gangsters had set up roadblocks and were unleashing heavy automatic gunfire, Durazo said.

“The decision was taken to retreat from the house, without Guzman to try to avoid more violence in the area and preserve the lives of our personnel and recover calm in the city,” Durazo said.

The chaotic scenes in Culiacan, long a stronghold for the Guzmans’ Sinaloa cartel, will increase pressure on President Lopez Obrador, who took office in December promising to pacify a country weary after more than a decade of drug-war fighting.

Murders this year are set to be at a record high.

The scenes in Sinaloa follow the massacre of more than a dozen police in western Mexico earlier this week, and the killing of 14 suspected gangsters by the army a day later.

‘El Chapo’ Guzman led the Sinaloa cartel for decades, escaping from prison twice before being arrested and extradited to the United States.

He was found guilty in a US court in February of smuggling tons of drugs and sentenced to life in prison.

He is believed to have about 12 children including Ovidio.

The US Department of Justice unveiled an indictment against Ovidio and another of the brothers in February, charging them with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana in the United States.

The indictment gave Ovidio’s age as 28, and said he had been involved in trafficking conspiracies since he was a teenager.


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