A son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was extradited to the United States on Friday, nine months after his arrest in Mexico, a senior U.S. law enforcement official said.
Ovidio Guzman Lopez was in federal custody in Chicago and has been linked to violence and the drug trade, the official said. A joint operation between the DEA and the U.S. Marshals Service led to the extradition.
In a statement Friday night, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland called Guzman a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel — the powerful drug trafficking organization formerly led by Guzman’s father — and described the extradition as the most recent step to “attack” every aspect of the group.
“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,” Garland said.
Guzman was taken into custody Jan. 5 in the Sinaloa city of Culiacán. Violence erupted in the city following his arrest, with alleged cartel members carjacking residents and setting vehicles on fire.
After a previous arrest in 2019, Mexican authorities released Guzman following a gunbattle known as the “Battle of Culiacán.”
Mexico faces violence after son of 'El Chapo' captured
A member of the “Chapitos” — as four of the sons are known — Guzman was indicted in April on federal charges of large-scale drug trafficking, money laundering and violent crimes linked to his father’s arrest and extradition in 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for California’s Southern District said at the time.
Prosecutors described the four brothers as cartel leaders, and all of them were indicted in April. The other three were not in custody at the time, and their whereabouts weren’t immediately clear.
The prosecutor’s office accused the brothers of transporting and manufacturing tons of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. When their indictments were announced, Attorney General Merrick Garland called the organization the “largest, most violent and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world.”
They also allegedly bribed officials and used murder, kidnapping and other violent crimes against law enforcement, rival drug traffickers and cartel members, prosecutors said.
Their father, the former head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was convicted in 2019 and is serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorado.
His wife was released from prison Wednesday after serving less than two years for helping run his multi-billion dollar drug empire.