The son of imprisoned Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was extradited Friday to the United States, where he was wanted on drug charges.
Ovidio Guzman Lopez was in federal custody in Chicago after being taken out of a Mexican prison. He has been linked to violence and the drug trade that has plagued Mexico.
“This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “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.”
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Guzman was arrested in January by Mexican authorities in Culiacan, Sinaloa, following an intense firefight that killed 30 people, including 10 military personnel. The government tried capturing him three years earlier, but an aborted operation set off a wave of cartel violence in the state capital.
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 President Biden visited Mexico for bilateral talks followed by the North American Leaders’ Summit.
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Guzman and his brothers, known as “Chapitos,” are accused of steering the Sinaloa Cartel increasingly into synthetic drugs like 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 price. Fentanyl is so cheap to make, that the cartel reaps immense profits even wholesaling the drug at 50 cents per pill, prosecutors said. The brothers denied the allegations in a letter.
The Chapitos became known for grotesque violence that appeared to surpass any notions of restraint shown by earlier generations of cartel leaders.
Fentanyl has become a top priority in the bilateral security relationship. But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has denied assertions by the U.S. government and his own military about fentanyl production in Mexico, instead describing the country as a transit point for precursors coming from China and bound for the U.S.
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López Obrador blames a deterioration of family values in the U.S. for the high levels of drug addiction in that country.
The wife of Guzman Loera, Emma Coronel Aispuro, 34, was released this week from a low-security facility in Los Angeles but remains under 48 months of supervised release following her a low-security facility in Los Angeles but remains under 48 months of supervised release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.