Mexico on Friday extradited the son of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States to face narcotics charges, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
Ovidio Guzman Lopez, also known as “El Raton” or “The Mouse,” was indicted earlier this year on drug trafficking charges linked to the fentanyl crisis plaguing the United States.
His father was convicted in 2019 of running what was believed to be the world’s biggest narcotics syndicate and is serving life in a supermax prison in the state of Colorado.
Garland hailed the extradition as “the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations.”
“The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”
The White House also lauded the extradition as part of “ongoing cooperation” with Mexico, a sign the administration of President Joe Biden is eager to get past the friction with Mexico over antinarcotics efforts.
“We thank our Mexican counterparts for their partnership in working to safeguard our peoples from violent criminals,” said the statement by Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, released by the White House.
Cooperation between Mexican and US security forces plunged last year after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador disbanded a unit that had worked closely with US Drug Enforcement Administration agents for more than a quarter century.
The Mexican leader had accused US agents of “abusive interference” in his country’s affairs.
– ‘The Little Chapos’ –
After Guzman’s conviction, several of his sons, collectively known as “the Little Chapos,” inherited control of the Sinaloa Cartel, US authorities said.
Security agents captured the younger Guzman in the Sinaloa city of Culiacan on January 5.
The operation to capture the younger Guzman resulted in 29 deaths, including 10 military personnel and 19 alleged criminals in clashes and mayhem as cartel members tried to free him.
Cartel members set vehicles on fire, an echo of the massive shootouts in 2019 when the younger Guzman was briefly detained but then freed to avoid bloodshed.
At the time, US authorities had a $5 million bounty for his arrest, accusing him and his brother, Joaquin Guzman Lopez, of overseeing methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa state producing an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of meth per month.
“Other information indicates that Ovidio Guzman Lopez has ordered the murders of informants, a drug trafficker, and a popular Mexican singer who had refused to sing at his wedding,” according to a website of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Ovidio Guzman, 33, will spend his first nights in a US prison just as his father’s wife, Emma Coronel, walks free.
Coronel, who is not Guzman’s mother, was released from a California halfway house this week after completing a sentence for collaborating with Chapo Guzman in his narcotics activities.
Coronel is a dual US-Mexican citizen.