US requests extradition of El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzmán

Mexican federal sources confirm that a diplomatic letter has been issued requesting that the Sinaloa Cartel leader be sent to the US to stand trial for trafficking with marijuana and cocaine

Ovidio Guzmán in an image of his first arrest in 2019.
Ovidio Guzmán in an image of his first arrest in 2019.RR SS

United States authorities have requested the extradition of Ovidio Guzmán, the son of notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and one of the current leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, Mexican federal sources confirmed to EL PAÍS. “The Mouse,” as Ovidio is known, has a pending case in a court in Washington DC for trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. He was arrested in Mexico on January 5 in a brutal operation that left 29 dead, including 10 soldiers. The raid involved laying siege to the town of Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa, and the neighboring town of Jesús María for more than 24 hours.

This week was the deadline for the US government to formally request the extradition of the leader of Los Chapitos, within the legal period established in the US-Mexico Extradition Agreement. On Monday, a legal representative of the US Embassy delivered a diplomatic letter, according to the newspaper Milenio, formally requesting that Guzmán be sent across the border to be tried.

The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia accuses Ovidio Guzmán of trafficking a ton of marijuana and at least five kilograms of cocaine, a felony, according to the US justice system.

His indictment dates back to July 2017, but remained classified until January 2019. It was not until September of that year, however, that Washington filed the extradition request to Mexico. A month later, on October 17, 2019, Mexican authorities first captured Guzmán in Culiacán. Narco-blockades, shootouts and riots in the city prompted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to give the order to release him. The fiasco went down in history as the “Culiacanazo” and was one of the lowest moments for the current government in the struggle against the cartels.

Since his capture, two Mexican judges have suspended his extradition to the US without prior judicial proceedings. These decisions do not halt the extradition process, but instead oblige appeals judges to ensure that the provisions of the bilateral extradition treaty are being respected.

Now, the Attorney General of the Republic must file the request before the federal control judge of the State of Mexico, where the extradition process is being handled, and request a hearing date. It is expected that in the coming days the Federal Criminal Justice Center, located in the federal prison in Almoloya de Juárez, will schedule the hearing in which Guzmán’s defense team may try to prevent his extradition.

Ovidio Guzmán was arrested in Jesús María, population 5,000, after six months of surveillance. At dawn, the military and the National Guard stormed the village to make amends for a failed 2019 operation, when they had to release the drug trafficker after having arrested him due to the resulting retaliatory onslaught by the cartel. On January 5, Mexican authorities detained The Mouse after a pitched battle against dozens of cartel hitmen who came out to defend him. Since then, he has been detained in the Reclusorio Norte in Mexico City.

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