Ovidio Guzman, 32, a son of jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on fentanyl trafficking charges, Mexican and US authorities said.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Friday that Ovidio Guzman – who is known by the alias “The Mouse” – had been extradited, calling it the latest step in US efforts to attack “every aspect” of the drug trafficking operations run by the Sinaloa Cartel long associated with the Guzman family.
“I am also grateful to our Mexican government counterparts for this extradition,” Garland said in a statement.
“The fight against the cartels has involved incredible courage by United States law enforcement and Mexican law enforcement and military service members, many of whom have given their lives in the pursuit of justice,” he said.
“The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fuelling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”
Guzman, one of the heirs to his father’s trafficking empire, was briefly arrested in the northern city of Culiacan in 2019 but released on the orders of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to avoid bloodshed when his cartel struck back following his arrest.
The Mexican army used Black Hawk helicopter gunships against the cartel’s truck-mounted heavy machine guns. The cartel’s gunmen hit two military aircraft forcing them to make emergency landings and then sent gunmen to Culiacan city’s airport where military and civilian aircraft were also hit by gunfire.
The violence killed 30 people in Culiacan, including 10 military personnel.
The son was captured again in January after an intense firefight in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa.
Mexican media including news network Milenio reported that Guzman had been taken out of a maximum security prison in central Mexico to be flown across the US border.
The US government asked for Guzman’s extradition in February so he could face drug charges in a US court.
In April, US prosecutors unsealed sprawling indictments against Guzman and his brothers, known collectively as the “Chapitos”.
They laid out in detail how following their father’s extradition and eventual life sentence in the US, the brothers steered the cartel increasingly into synthetic drugs like methamphetamine and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. The indictment said their goal was to produce huge quantities of fentanyl and sell it at the lowest price.
The Chapitos are also known for their grotesque violence that appeared to surpass any notions of restraint shown by earlier generations of cartel leaders.
They have denied the allegations of drug trafficking.
In 2021, the US Department of State offered a $5m reward for information leading to Ovidio’s arrest or conviction.
His father, “El Chapo” Guzman, rose to prominence at the helm of the Sinaloa Cartel and was extradited to the US in 2017 after twice escaping from prison in Mexico.
The elder Guzman is now at a high-security “supermax” prison in the state of Colorado.