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Justice Department files charges against El Chapo's sons for fentanyl trafficking

The United States is offering rewards for information leading to the arrest of members of the Sinaloa Cartel and has pledged to work with Mexico to reduce the flow of drugs into the country.

Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General during a speech

Merrick Garland/ Cordon Press.

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The United States and Mexico pledged to improve surveillance of fentanyl trafficking, which they recognized as North America's most dangerous drug. Representatives from both countries met in Washington to discuss opioid and arms trafficking.

Regarding the fentanyl problem, two cartels were identified as the main culprits: Jalisco Nueva Generación and the Sinaloa Cartel. Both countries agreed to come up with recommendations to improve voluntary reporting of chemical diversion by the e-commerce, shipping and chemical industries.

Mexico got the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to deploy a team to work against the flow of weapons to the south.

The hunt of The Chapitos

As part of these efforts, the Department of Justice filed charges against the Sinaloa Cartel's leadership. It accuses them of being "largely responsible for the manufacturing and importing of fentanyl for distribution in the United States."

As explained in the department's press release, the criminal organization is an affiliation of drug traffickers that allegedly includes The Chapitos, the sons of Joaquin "The Chapo" Guzman. Iván Guzmán Salazar (40) Alfredo Guzmán Salazar (37), Joaquín Guzmán López (36) and Ovidio Guzmán López (33) supposedly took over the criminal organization formerly led by their father when he was arrested and extradited to the United States more than five years ago.

The charges filed in three districts include The Chapitos, their top hitman, Nestor Isidro Perez Salas, the alleged leader of the armed group the "Ninis," and 28 others who are accused of being involved in trafficking drugs into the United States.

The defendants were part of the fentanyl production and distribution chain. Charges were filed against the "sophisticated launderers" for the money they obtained from the sale of the opioid, the laboratories that manufacture it and the Chinese companies that make the drug's precursors.

In addition, the Department of Justice is offering rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of The Chapitos. There is a $10 million reward for Iván, Alfredo and Ovidio Guzmán, and up to $5 million for Joaquín Guzmán.

"Today’s indictments send a clear message to Los Chapitos, the Sinaloa Cartel, and criminal drug networks around the world that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will stop at nothing to protect the national security of the United States," stated the DEA Administrator, Anne Milgram. Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed the importance of the measures taken because "families and communities across our country are being devastated by the fentanyl epidemic."

A relationship of comings and goings

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador accused Washington of disrespecting his country and threatening its sovereignty in a letter he sent to his Chinese counterpart last month.

President López Obrador sent a letter to Xi Jinping demanding his cooperation in security and drug policy; and protecting the integrity and health of millions. Together they will fight the trafficking of fentanyl and stop the epidemic of opioids that affects the US and the world. 

In that letter, López Obrador asked Beijing for help in combating the spread of this drug: "We come to you, President Xi Jinping, not to ask for your support, but to ask for your help, in the face of these rude friends of ours, to help us control shipments of fentanyl that may be sent from China to our country."

They threaten to invade, they sell high-powered weapons in their markets, they do nothing for their young people, they suffer - unfortunately - from the terrible and deadly fentanyl pandemic, but they do not address the causes. They are not concerned about welfare, only money, nor do they strengthen moral, cultural and spiritual values; neither do they limit drug consumption, on the contrary, they encourage it even in sports. It is painful and decadent.

Earlier that month, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who participated in the conference where the charges against Los Chapitos were announced, criticized the Mexican government in front of the Senate. Mexico, he said, could "do more" to address the fentanyl crisis.