Ovidio Guzm??n L??pez, one of the sons of infamous Mexican drug lord Joaqu?n “El Chapo” Guzm??n, has been extradited to Chicago to face trial on federal drug charges. The extradition took place nearly nine months after Guzm??n L??pez was arrested in Culiac??n, a city in northwestern Mexico that has long been a stronghold of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which his father helped build. This marks Guzm??n L??pez's second arrest, following a calamitous first arrest four years ago that resulted in a violent siege of Culiac??n by cartel gunmen. The authorities were ultimately forced to release him.
After El Chapo's conviction and sentencing to life in prison in 2019, law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and Homeland Security Investigations intensified their focus on his four sons, who inherited parts of their father's criminal empire. The sons, known as Los Chapitos, were subsequently charged in various indictments in Washington, Chicago, and New York. Guzm??n L??pez's case in Chicago is built on evidence collected from multiple agencies and sources, including cooperating witnesses. The 40-page indictment against him and his brothers spans drug sales and violent crimes dating back to 2008.
Guzm??n L??pez is expected to appear in Federal District Court in Chicago on Monday, where he will be represented by Jeffrey Lichtman, the same lawyer who represented his father. His extradition is considered a success in the effort to prosecute Los Chapitos, despite the interagency rivalries and multiple indictments that have complicated the cases. Furthermore, the extradition to Chicago represents a setback for New York prosecutors who had filed comprehensive charges against Guzm??n L??pez and his brothers, focusing on their involvement in trafficking the potent drug fentanyl across the border.
Prosecutors in Chicago assert that after El Chapo's arrest and extradition to New York in 2016, Guzm??n L??pez and his brothers took over the leadership of the cartel alongside their father's partners, Ismael Zambada Garc?a and D??maso L??pez N???±ez. L??pez N???±ez was arrested in 2017 and later testified against El Chapo. Zambada, who remains at large, is in his 70s. The indictment in Chicago accuses Guzm??n L??pez of acting as a logistical coordinator for the cartel, overseeing the transportation of large drug shipments into the United States and the laundering of drug proceeds.
However, it remains uncertain whether Guzm??n L??pez's extradition will have a significant impact on the cartel's activities. He has been considered the least accomplished of El Chapo's sons, and experts believe the Sinaloa cartel will continue its drug trafficking operations. The violence and failed arrests surrounding the Guzm??n family have been likened to a bad Netflix show by a security analyst.
It is worth noting that Guzm??n's recent wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was released from prison just two days before her stepson's extradition. She had been sentenced to three years for her involvement in running her husband's drug organization and plotting to break him out of prison. Coronel Aispuro pleaded guilty and served her sentence.
The extradition of Guzm??n L??pez comes as part of the US Justice Department's ongoing efforts to combat the operations of the Sinaloa cartel. US Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the significance of this action in holding accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated communities across the country. Meanwhile, former DEA official Mike Vigil suggested that Mexico's decision to facilitate the extradition may have been influenced by pressure from conservative US lawmakers who had raised the possibility of military intervention if Mexico did not take stronger action against drug trafficking.
Despite the extradition, Mexican President Andres Manuel L??pez Obrador has denied claims by both the US government and his own military that Mexico is a major producer of fentanyl. He insists that Mexico is merely a transit point for precursor chemicals coming from China and destined for the US. The issue of fentanyl production has become a priority in the bilateral security relationship between the two countries. Nonetheless, experts believe that the Sinaloa cartel will continue its drug operations, particularly its production and trafficking of fentanyl, which has contributed to the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States.
themes: Chicago Military Illinois Mexico China Washington New York (state)