Ovidio Guzman, one of the sons of imprisoned Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Chicago on Monday, three days after he was extradited from Mexico.
Guzman, 33, is one of El Chapo’s four sons, known as “Los Chapitos,” who inherited their father’s human trafficking empire after he was convicted of murder and drug charges in the United States in 2019. “El Chapo” Guzman is serving a maximum life sentence at a security prison in Colorado.
U.S. officials said the arrest and extradition of Ovidio Guzman was a significant victory in the Biden administration’s campaign to stem the deadly flow of fentanyl across the southern border.
Guzman was briefly arrested in Culiacan, northern Sinaloa state, in 2019. But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ordered his release after hundreds of Sinaloa cartel gunmen overwhelmed security forces in the city.
Guzman was captured again in January after a fierce firefight. The US requested his extradition in February.
Fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic opioid, causes nearly 200 deaths daily in the U.S., a figure that is straining U.S.-Mexico relations and putting domestic pressure on the Biden administration to slow the spread of the deadly drug.
According to U.S. officials, the Sinaloa cartel is primarily responsible for the production and cross-border export of fentanyl.
In court papers, prosecutors said Ovidio Guzmán and his brothers ran a massive international drug trade, transporting drugs to the United States on planes, submarines, fishing boats and rail cars and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.
The State Department has offered millions of dollars in rewards for information leading to the capture of the Guzman brothers.
“El Chapo” Guzmán rose to fame at the head of the Sinaloa Cartel and added to his infamy by escaping from Mexican prisons twice. He was extradited to the United States in 2017 and sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn.
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