A photo Guzmán sitting on the plane that flew him from Mexico the U.S still wearing the khaki uniform used at the Altiplano prison. He’s wearing eyeglasses and is handcuffed at the wrists and waist. Photo posted courtesy of former DEA agent Derek Maltz
Ovidio Guzmán, one of the sons of the notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, pleaded not guilty to an array of drug-trafficking charges this afternoon in a court in Chicago. He has joined his father in the U.S penitentiary system following his extradition from Mexico over the weekend. Guzmán’s relatively speedy and unexpected extradition from Mexico took place on Friday Sep. 15 during Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations. Ovidio was captured in a shootout between cartel henchmen and the country’s government in January that brought the city of Culiacan, Sinaloa to a standstill.
The move to get the young Guzmán out of Mexican detention and behind U.S prison bars was likely the result of worries by the U.S government that he might escape in a similar vein to his father, who escaped twice when he was in prison in Mexico.During his first hearing in Chicago today, Ovidio told Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman that he suffered from anxiety and depression, and that he had a recent stomach operation and was taking medicine for both. His next hearing was set for November 17.
At around noon a group of Interpol officers arrived at the Altiplano maximum security prison in Mexico and presented an expedited extradition order. Guzmán was moved to a General Attorney’s Office hangar in Mexico City and after a few hours he was flown to Chicago, where he is facing various serious charges including drug trafficking, money laundering and arms trafficking, according to his 40-page court indictment. “Guzmán’s extraction was kept secret, even from the director of the Mexican prison, and was set to happen on September 15 during the Mexican independence celebrations to avoid any retaliation from his people,” an Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent told VICE News at the request to keep his identity concealed. A first photo posted on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, by former DEA agent Derek Maltz showed Guzmán sitting on a plane still wearing the khaki uniform used at the Altiplano prison. He’s wearing eyeglasses and is handcuffed at the wrists and waist.
Ovidio is one of four of El Chapo’s sons, known as “Los Chapitos,” believed by the DEA to have taken over the reins of a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel since their father was extradited, tried, and sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. in 2019 after one of the highest-profile media trials of a generation. In the most recent indictment against Los Chapitos, U.S prosecutors accuse the men of using humans to test the potency of their often deadly illicit fentanyl, and of feeding their victims to tigers.Los Chapitos also include Ovidio’s brothers Iván Archivaldo, Jesús Alfredo, and Joaquín, who remain at large in Mexico. Known as ‘El Ratón’ [the mouse], Ovidio, 33, is the youngest of El Chapo's sons still allegedly in the drug business, and the U.S. was offering $5 million for his capture. He was finally arrested in January at his state-of-the-art ranch, where he had gathered his three daughters, his wife and his mother for a holiday celebration. It was the second attempt to detain him - the first in late 2019 was a public embarrassment for the Mexican government, which was forced to back down after being outgunned and outnumbered by cartel henchmen.
The three of “Los Chapitos” who remain at large currently share control of the Sinaloa Cartel with other factions, one headed by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, one of the original founders of the organization, and another by Aureliano Guzmán, also known as “El Guano” El Chapo’s brother.The main witnesses against Ovidio and his brothers are Margarito and Pedro Flores, a pair of Chicago-based twins who used to work for El Chapo and testified against him during his trial in 2019, according to his extradition request. Another key witness is El Chapo’s godson, Dámaso López Serrano, known as “El Mini Lic.”, a former right-hand man. A source inside the Sinaloa Cartel in Culiacán told VICE News that Ovidio’s brothers Alfredo and Iván, along with their security teams, attended two different parties celebrating Mexico’s independence day as their youngest brother was being extradited. Prior to Ovidio’s removal, Iván and Alfredo—Ovidio’s two step brothers from ‘El Chapo’s’ first wife— apparently had a conference call to discuss “violent actions” to stop his extradition, but were worried that it would grab “too much unwanted attention,” according to the HSI source.“What they ordered is to stop recording and stop playing new corridos about them, or going to parties, and to keep a low profile because they think Ovidio will talk to the U.S. government about them,” the agent said. The U.S. Department of Justice said Guzmán’s extradition was a joint operation between Mexican and U.S. governments. “Today, as a result of United States and Mexico law enforcement cooperation, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the United States. This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement published on Friday. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during his Monday morning press conference that Guzmán’s legal team agreed to his extradition “to avoid his client being used as a political pawn.”