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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Mexico extradites son of cartel boss El Chapo to US

The move comes nine months after the accused drug trafficker was arrested by Mexican authorities

The son of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has been extradited to the United States on narco-trafficking charges, US officials have said, noting that he faces criminal proceedings in at least three different states.

The US Justice Department announced the news on Friday, with Attorney General Merrick Garland saying the extradition of 33-year-old Ovidio Guzman Lopez was part of a DOJ effort to “attack every aspect” of the Sinaloa cartel.

“The fight against the cartels has involved incredible courage by United States law enforcement and Mexican law enforcement and military servicemembers, many of whom have given their lives in the pursuit of justice,” he said, vowing to continue pursuing “those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”

Guzman Lopez was arrested in a raid by the Mexican police and military at a compound in Culiacan earlier this year, prompting a string of gun fights with security forces across the city before the drug boss ultimately gave himself up.

Wanted since 2018 for his alleged role in the fentanyl and methamphetamine trade, he was charged by US authorities back in April alongside three of his brothers and dozens of other cartel members as part of a major crackdown on the Sinaloa gang, which is considered to be one of the largest and most violent drug-running organizations in the world.

The brothers – known collectively as the “Chapitos” – were accused of “large-scale drug trafficking, money laundering, and violent crimes in connection with their assumption of cartel leadership following their father’s arrest and extradition to the United States,” the DOJ said in a statement at the time, as Guzman Lopez remained in Mexican custody.

While those charges were brought in Illinois, Guzman Lopez also faces separate criminal litigation in New York and Washington, DC, with the latter case filed in 2018 for “conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, 500 grams of methamphetamine, and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.”

The elder Guzman, better known by his moniker ‘El Chapo,’ is currently serving a life sentence in the US after a 2019 conviction on a string of offenses, including drug trafficking, money laundering, firearms charges and a murder conspiracy.