Ovidio Guzman Lopez, the son of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been extradited to the US on drug trafficking charges, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has announced. In a statement on Friday that referred to Ovidio Guzman, 33, as a “leader of the Sinaloa Cartel”, Garland said the extradition was a “result of US and Mexico law enforcement cooperation”, reports CNN.
“This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations,” he added.
“The fight against the cartels has involved incredible courage by US law enforcement and Mexican law enforcement and military servicemembers, many of whom have given their lives in the pursuit of justice.”
Guzman was flown to Chicago and landed on Friday afternoon, Northern District of Illinois Assistant US Attorney Joseph D. Fitzpatrick told CNN.
Although an initial court appearance has not been set, but the US Attorney’s office expects it to take place on September 18, he said.
Guzman was arrested by Mexican authorities in January in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, that led to 29 deaths and has been in custody since then.
The US had been seeking his extradition for drug trafficking.
Following his arrest, 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, CNN reported.
At least 19 suspected gang members and 10 military personnel died during those clashes.
Ovidio Guzman had previously been arrested in October 2019, but was released on the orders of President Andres Manuel Lopez 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 is home to one of the world’s most powerful narcotics trafficking organisations, the Sinaloa Cartel, of which “El Chapo” was the leader.
According to the State Department, Ovidio Guzman and his brother, Joaquin, function in high-level command and control roles of their own drug trafficking organisation, the Guzman-Lopez Transnational Criminal Organization, under the umbrella of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Ovidio and Joaquin began their narcotics trafficking careers early by inheriting relationships from their deceased brother, Edgar
Following Edgar’s death, the two inherited a great deal of the narcotics proceeds and began investing large amounts of the cash into the purchasing of marijuana in Mexico and cocaine in Colombia.
Meanwhile, “El Chapo”, who famously escaped from Altiplano prison on July 11, 2015, through a mile-long tunnel, 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.