Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, to the United States on Friday to face drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations,” Garland said.
The Mexican government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mexican security forces captured Guzmán López on January 5 in an Army operation in Jesús María, a small town in the State of Sinaloa, and since then he had been detained in a maximum-security prison of the Altiplano. The branch of the Sinaloa Cartel led by the children of El Chapo Guzmán, convicted in the United States for drug trafficking, is accused of leading the production and transfer of fentanyl from Mexico to the United States.
Three years earlier, the government had tried to capture him, but aborted the operation after his cartel allies set off a wave of violence in Culiacan. Guzmán was detained in October 2019, but released within hours to avoid violent retribution from his drug gang.
January’s arrest set off similar violence that killed 29 people in Culiacan, including 10 military personnel. The army used Black Hawk helicopter gunships against the cartel’s truck-mounted .50-caliber machine guns. Cartel gunmen hit two military aircraft forcing them to land and sent gunmen to the city’s airport where military and civilian aircraft were hit by gunfire.
The capture came just days before U.S. President Joe Biden visited Mexico for bilateral talks followed by the North American Leaders’ Summit.
On Friday, Garland recognized the law enforcement and military members who had given their lives in the U.S. and Mexico. “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”
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