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El Chapo sons among 28 members of Mexican cartel indicted

In total, eight of those charged have been arrested and are currently in the custody of law enforcement officials in different countries.
Posted at 2:51 PM, Apr 14, 2023

On Friday, the Department of Justice unsealed three indictments charging more than two dozen defendants, including 28 members of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, for the trafficking and distribution of fentanyl.

Officials said this is a step towards dismantling the global network of the powerful cartel with ties to China, Guatemala and other countries.

Three of the men indicted include the three sons of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, known as "El Chapo," who took over the Sinaloa cartel after their dad was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Their names are Ovidio Guzmán López, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, but they're now known as the Chapitos. Only Guzmán López is in custody, currently in Mexico.

"The charges unsealed today demonstrate the comprehensive approach the Justice Department is taking to disrupt the entire fentanyl and all trafficking ecosystem," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

Garland described the Sinaloa cartel run by the Chapitos as a force lacking respect for human life and responsible for large volumes of fentanyl trafficking.

"The Chapito's security forces attack law enforcement, intimidate civilians, destroy unsupported businesses and capture contested territory," Garland said. "They often torture and kill their victims. They have fed some of their victims dead and alive to tigers belonging to the Chapitos." 

Fentanyl is a dangerous and deadly drug that has been found in counterfeit prescriptions and laced into cocaine and heroin. Experts say it's 50 times more potent than heroin, and as little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal.

Officials said fentanyl seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection increased more than 400% since 2019 and add that this fiscal year already surpassed the total fentanyl seizures in 2022.

Mexico nabs son of drug lord 'El Chapo,' violence erupts

Ovidio Guzmán's arrest came in a pre-dawn military operation Thursday outside Culiacan, a stronghold of the Sinaloa drug cartel in western Mexico.


Nogales, Arizona, is a hot spot for fentanyl seizures. The director of the Port of Nogales said officers confiscated more than 25 million fentanyl pills this fiscal year, more than double than the previous year.

Garland fatal overdoses in America increased approximately 94% between 2019 and 2021, with an estimated 196 Americans dying every day from fentanyl poisoning.

"Today in the United States, Americans die nearly every eight minutes from fentanyl poisoning," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.

In 2021, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses. That set a record by marking a 15% increase compared to 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data compiled by the CDC revealed synthetic opioids (fentanyl) accounted for 71,238 deaths in 2021 compared to 57,834 deaths in 2020.

The Robinson family in Kentucky lost two family members to fentanyl just months apart.

"There is no words to describe the pain and the anguish," Betty Robinson said.

"These statistics are horrifying, but they do not begin to capture the reality of a loss that so many families carry with them every day," Garland said.

The U.S. Department of Treasury also announced sanctions against two Chinese companies and five people linked to the distribution of chemicals used to make fentanyl.

"The department is now waging a relentless campaign to disrupt the production, the distribution, the trafficking of fentanyl before it can reach its victims," Monaco said.

The State Department is offering up to $56 million in rewards for information that leads to the arrest of defendants, including up to $10 million just for information that leads to the arrest of the two other Chapito brothers.