Ovidio Guzman Lopez, son of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been extradited from Mexico to the United States, the US Department of Justice has announced.
The extradition was a “result of United States and Mexico law enforcement cooperation,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement Friday that referred to Guzman as a “leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
“This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations,” Garland added.
An initial court appearance hasn’t been set, but the US Attorney’s office expects it to happen on Monday, he said.
Guzman was arrested by Mexican authorities in January of this year following a dramatic operation in the northern state of Sinaloa that led to 29 deaths and has been in custody since then. The US has been seeking his extradition for drug trafficking.
Following his arrest in Culiacán, chaos erupted in the city with authorities asking citizens to shelter at home as law enforcement clashed with cartel members in various parts of the city.
At least 19 suspected gang members and 10 military personnel died during those clashes. No civilian deaths or injuries were reported.
Guzman had previously been arrested in October 2019, but was released on the orders of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to avoid bloodshed, and subsequently went into hiding until his arrest in 2023.
His extradition follows the release from a US prison of Emma Coronel Aispuro, El Chapo’s wife, on Wednesday. She had served nearly two years for drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
The state of Sinaloa, where Culiacán is located, is home to one of the world’s most powerful narcotics trafficking organizations, the Sinaloa Cartel, of which “El Chapo” was the leader.
The US State Department believes that Guzman and his brother, Joaquín Guzman-Lopez, “inherited a great deal of the narcotics proceeds” following the death of another brother, Edgar Guzman-Lopez.
It alleges they “began investing large amounts of the cash into the purchasing of marijuana in Mexico and cocaine in Colombia.”
“They also began purchasing large amounts of ephedrine from Argentina and arranged for the smuggling of the product into Mexico as they began to experiment with methamphetamine production,” the State Department said.
The brothers are also alleged to oversee an estimated 11 “methamphetamine labs in the state of Sinaloa,” according to the State Department.
In his statement following the extradition, Attorney General Garland paid tribute to the law enforcement officials involved.
“The fight against the cartels has involved incredible courage by United States law enforcement and Mexican law enforcement and military service members, many of whom have given their lives in the pursuit of justice,” Garland said.
“I am grateful to them and to the department’s prosecutors for their work and their sacrifice. I am also grateful to our Mexican government counterparts for this extradition. The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”
Guzman’s father, “El Chapo,” famously escaped from Altiplano prison on July 11, 2015, through a mile-long tunnel that featured a motorcycle on tracks.
He was later captured and convicted in the US four years later of 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, drug trafficking and firearms charges.
He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.