Mexico City, September 16
Mexico extradited Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán, to the United States on Friday to face drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
"This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department's effort to attack every aspect of the cartel's operations," Garland said.
The Mexican government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mexican security forces captured Guzmán López, alias 'the Mouse', in January in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa state, the cartel's namesake.
Three years earlier, the government had tried to capture him, but aborted the operation after his cartel allies set off a wave of violence in Culiacan.
January's arrest set off similar violence that killed 30 people in Culiacan, including 10 military personnel. The army used Black Hawk helicopter gunships against the cartel's truck-mounted .50-caliber machine guns. Cartel gunmen hit two military aircraft forcing them to land and sent gunmen to the city's airport where military and civilian aircraft were hit by gunfire.
The capture came just days before US President Joe Biden visited Mexico for bilateral talks followed by the North American Leaders' Summit.
On Friday, Garland recognised the law enforcement and military members who had given their lives in the US and Mexico.
"The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fuelling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country."
Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said he believed the Mexican government facilitated the extradition, because for someone of Guzmán López's high profile it usually takes at least two years to win extradition as attorneys make numerous filings as a delaying tactic.
"This happened quicker than normal," Vigil said, noting that some conservative members of the US Congress had raised the idea of US military intervention if Mexico did not do more to stop the flow of drugs. Vigil dismissed that idea as "political theater," but suggested it added pressure on Mexico to act.
Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall said in statement that the extradition "is testament to the significance of the ongoing cooperation between the American and Mexican governments on countering narcotics and other vital challenges, and we thank our Mexican counterparts for their partnership in working to safeguard our peoples from violent criminals."
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