Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzman, one of the sons of incarcerated drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to the US to face drug trafficking charges, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed in a statement late Friday.
(Bloomberg) — Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzman, one of the sons of incarcerated drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to the US to face drug trafficking charges, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed in a statement late Friday.
Guzman, the alleged leader of a major drug trafficking organization suspected of funneling narcotics to the US, was removed from a Mexican prison by Interpol agents for his extradition, Milenio newspaper reported earlier, citing US government officials.
The extradition was a result of US and Mexico law enforcement cooperation, part of the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations, Garland said in the statement.
“The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country,” he said.
Guzman’s extradition comes amid US pressure on Mexico to curb fentanyl trafficking and vows by Republican presidential candidates to send the military to Mexico to disrupt shipments and fight cartels.
The extradition “is testament to the significance of the ongoing cooperation between the American and Mexican governments on countering narcotics and other vital challenges,” the White House said in a statement late Friday.
Guzman was arrested in January in Culiacan, in Sinaloa state, in the midst of a wave of violence in the city, with blockades, looting and shootings that left 29 people dead, including 10 military, according to the government. He later was transferred to Mexico City, where he remained in the Altiplano prison until Friday.
Read More: ‘El Chapo’ Son Held in Mexico Drug Case as Violence Engulfs City
Some of the actions against drug cartel leaders are characterized by a political and symbolic timing. Guzman’s arrest came just days before US President Joe Biden visited Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit, and his extradition on Friday happened right before the celebration of the country’s Independence Day in the historic center of the capital. Also, “El Chapo” was extradited in what was widely viewed as a peace offering by Mexico to the US on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
Guzman, 33, is considered the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, a top producer and distributor of fentanyl and other drugs. He was released by the Mexican government after his capture in October 2019 led to widespread violence across Culiacan. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador acknowledged he ordered the release after previously saying he hadn’t been informed of the operation.
In April, the US Justice Department charged the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, including Ovidio Guzman and his brothers, with crimes including narcotics trafficking and money laundering. The State Department offered up to $5 million for information leading to Guzman’s arrest or conviction.
“The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to use every tool available to aggressively counter the deadly scourge of fentanyl and other narcotics that are killing so many Americans,” the White House said in Friday’s statement.
–With assistance from Eric Martin.
(Updates with context in eighth paragraph.)
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