Mexico Extradites Son of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán to U.S.

Sinaloa Cartel leader was arrested by Mexican security forces in January
2 week before September 15, 2023 at 08:45 Author: Editors Desk Source: WSJ:
This video still, provided by the Mexican government, shows Ovidio Guzmán being detained in Mexico in 2019. PHOTO: CEPROPIE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
This video still, provided by the Mexican government, shows Ovidio Guzmán being detained in Mexico in 2019. PHOTO: CEPROPIE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEXICO CITY—Mexico extradited Sinaloa Cartel leader Ovidio Guzmán to the U.S. to face drug charges, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Ovidio Guzmán is a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is serving a life sentence at a maximum-security facility in the U.S.

The younger Guzmán was captured in January after a gunbattle with Mexican federal forces in his home state of Sinaloa.

The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Guzmán, who was indicted in 2018 in Washington, D.C., on charges of smuggling methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.

Guzmán has been a pioneer in the illegal production and smuggling to the U.S. of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, say people involved in the business and Mexican officials.

The Sinaloa Cartel, along with its main rival, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, controls a burgeoning trade in fentanyl.

The Justice Department will “continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

The extradition of Guzmán, also known as El Ratón, or the Mouse, was surprisingly fast as lawyers for well-heeled criminals usually file injunction after injunction to delay the process for years, said Mike Vigil, a former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s international operations.

“It normally takes two years,” he said.

Ovidio Guzmán was briefly captured by soldiers in Culiacán in 2019, but quickly freed by the government after hundreds of cartel gunmen flooded the city, fighting the soldiers and threatening to attack their families at a military housing project. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he had ordered Guzmán’s release to prevent a bloodbath.

That incident, known as the “Culiacanazo” deeply embarrassed the Mexican government.

Guzmán’s second capture in the town of Jesús María, close to the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacán, came after a battle that left at least 19 cartel gunmen dead, as well as 10 soldiers including an army colonel.

Fentanyl caused most of the 107,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021, U.S. officials say. Much of it is produced in makeshift laboratories near Culiacán.

Stemming fentanyl flows from Mexico to the U.S. was at the top of the agenda when President Biden and López Obrador met in Mexico City four days after the gunbattle.

The U.S. State Department said in 2021 that the younger Guzmán, along with a brother, was overseeing 11 laboratories in Sinaloa that produced up to 5,000 pounds of methamphetamine a month.

Write to José de Córdoba at


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