Mexico has extradited Ovidio Guzmán López, the son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, to the United States to face charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, and other crimes. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed the extradition, stating that it is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to dismantle the cartel’s operations. The Mexican government has not yet commented on the extradition.
Guzmán López, also known as “the Mouse,” was captured by Mexican security forces in January in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. This arrest followed a previous failed attempt to capture him three years earlier, which resulted in a wave of violence orchestrated by his cartel allies in Culiacan. The recent arrest also led to violent clashes, resulting in the deaths of 30 people, including 10 military personnel. The Mexican army deployed Black Hawk helicopter gunships to counter the cartel’s heavily armed gunmen.
Former head of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mike Vigil, believes that the Mexican government expedited Guzmán López’s extradition due to pressure from conservative members of the U.S. Congress. Vigil dismissed the idea of U.S. military intervention as “political theater” but suggested that it added pressure on Mexico to take action.
Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall expressed gratitude for the ongoing cooperation between the American and Mexican governments in countering narcotics and other challenges. She highlighted the significance of the extradition in safeguarding both countries from violent criminals.
In April, U.S. prosecutors unsealed indictments against Guzmán López and his brothers, collectively known as the “Chapitos.” The indictments detailed their involvement in steering the cartel towards synthetic drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl. Prosecutors alleged that their goal was to produce large quantities of fentanyl and sell it at a low price, reaping immense profits. The Chapitos denied these allegations in a letter.
While Guzmán López’s extradition is seen as a symbolic victory, experts like Vigil believe it will have little impact on the Sinaloa cartel’s operations. The cartel is known for its drug trafficking activities, particularly in fentanyl, which has become a top priority in the bilateral security relationship between Mexico and the United States.
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López-Obrador has previously described his country as a transit point for fentanyl precursors coming from China and bound for the U.S. However, U.S. prosecutors assert that much of the production occurs in and around Culiacan, where the Sinaloa cartel holds significant control.