LatinNews Daily - 26 January 2023

MEXICO: Judge blocks extradition of El Chapo’s son

On 25 January, a Mexican judge blocked the extradition of Ovidio Guzmán López, the son of the infamous former Sinaloa drug trafficking organisation (DTO) leader Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Loera.


Mexico’s armed forces captured Guzmán López, an alleged high-ranking member of the Sinaloa DTO, on 5 January, in an operation hailed as “a forceful blow” to the criminal group. The following day, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that the US had previously presented a provisional request for Guzmán López’s arrest for extradition purposes. However, he made it clear there would be no “fast track” process for his extradition. The new ruling suggests the extradition process may well drag on for some time.

  • According to excerpts of the ruling widely cited in the local press, a judge in the fifth district court of appeals and federal lawsuits in Estado de México (Edomex) granted the “definitive suspension” of Guzmán López’s extradition. This does not mean any potential extradition is cancelled, but that the process will be frozen until an appeal filed by the defence is resolved.
  • Guzmán López was arrested days before US President Joe Biden arrived in Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS). Many saw the capture as a way for Mexico to curry favour with the US, given that the Sinaloa DTO and the faction led by Guzmán López and his brothers, Los Chapitos, are involved in the illicit fentanyl trade. However, the arrest was not mentioned publicly at the summit and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vehemently denied any US involvement in the operation to capture him.
  • Mexico’s former public security minister Genaro García Luna (2006-2012) is currently on trial in the US, accused of accepting bribes from the Sinaloa DTO. On 24 January, López Obrador said that, if García Luna is found innocent or there is insufficient evidence to convict him, it would be a “fiasco”, and “would make the agencies and the US government look very bad”.
  • Those to testify so far include Sergio Villarreal Barragán ‘El Grande’, a former police officer who became a high-ranking member of the Beltrán Leyva Organisation (BLO), a formerly powerful Mexican DTO that was allied with the Sinaloa DTO.

Looking Ahead: On 23 January, another judge fixed the deadline of 5 March for the US to submit a formal request for the extradition of Guzmán López, which it is yet to do despite its provisional request.

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