Ovidio Guzmán López, son of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, pleaded not guilty Monday to drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges in his first court hearing since he was extradited from Mexico to the United States.
Guzmán López was extradited on Friday, five months after US prosecutors published a lengthy case against him and his brothers, known collectively as “Los Chapitos.” The file details how they, after the extradition and life sentence of his father in 2019, guided the cartel to venture into synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Mexican security forces captured Guzmán López, known as “El Ratón,” in January in Culiacán, capital of the state of Sinaloa. His arrest sparked a wave of violence that left 30 dead, including 10 members of the armed forces. The military used Black Hawk helicopters against 50-caliber machine guns that the cartel mounted on trucks. The cartel gunmen hit two military aircraft, forcing them to land, and the violence spread to the city’s airport, where civil and military aircraft were hit.
Three years earlier, the government tried to capture him, but aborted the operation due to similar violence.
The case against the brothers, released in April, says that their objective was to produce large quantities of fentanyl and sell them at the lowest possible price. The brothers, in a letter, denied the allegations in a letter.
National Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall said in a statement Friday that Guzmán López’s extradition “is testament to the importance of continued cooperation between the governments of the United States and Mexico to combat drugs and other vital challenges.” . Sherwood-Randall made multiple visits to Mexico this year to meet with President Andrés Manuel López-Obrador, the most recent being last month.
López Obrador has insisted that his country is only a transit point for fentanyl ingredients coming from China and destined for the United States, despite assertions by the United States and its own military that they are produced in Mexico.