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 charges, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“This action is the latest step in the Justice Department’s efforts to attack every aspect of the cartel’s activities,” Garland said.
The Mexican government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mexican security forces arrested Guzmán López, aka “the Mouse,” in January in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, the cartel’s namesake.
Three years earlier, the government had tried to capture him but called off the operation after his cartel allies unleashed a wave of violence in Culiacán.
The arrest in January sparked similar violence in which 30 people were killed in Culiacán, including 10 military personnel.
The Army used Black Hawk attack helicopters against the cartel’s truck-mounted .50-caliber machine guns. Cartel gunmen attacked two military planes, forcing them to land and sending gunmen to the city’s airport, where military and civilian planes were hit by gunfire.
The capture came just days before US President Joe Biden visits Mexico for bilateral talks, followed by the summit of North American leaders.
On Friday, Garland recognized the law enforcement and military members who gave their lives in the United States and Mexico. “The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”
In April, U.S. prosecutors unsealed extensive indictments against Guzmán and his brothers, known collectively as “Chapitos.” They detailed how, after their father’s extradition and resulting life sentence in the United States, the brothers increasingly steered the cartel toward synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
The indictment unsealed in Manhattan said their goal was to produce huge quantities of fentanyl and sell it at the lowest possible price. Fentanyl is so cheap to make that the cartel makes huge profits even by selling the drug wholesale for 50 cents a pill, prosecutors said. The brothers denied the allegations in a letter.
The Chapitos became known for their grotesque violence, which seemed to surpass any notions of restraint held by previous generations of cartel leaders.
Fentanyl is a top priority in bilateral security relations. But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has dismissed claims from the U.S. government and his own military about fentanyl production in Mexico, instead calling the country a transit point for precursors coming from China and entering the United States
López Obrador blames a decline in family values in the United States for the high quality of life
Levels of drug addiction in this country.
There were an estimated 109,680 overdose deaths in the United States last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 75,000 of those were related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
Inexpensive fentanyl is increasingly being incorporated into other drugs, often without the buyers’ knowledge.