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DOJ Unveils Charges Against Sinaloa Cartel, Including El Chapo’s Sons, Over Fentanyl Trafficking

The Department of Justice announced charges against more than two dozen individuals of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel for alleged illegal trafficking of fentanyl and other drugs.

The charges, announced in an April 14 press conference, target 33 people, including “the Chapitos,” the sons of former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman: Joaquin Guzman Lopez, 36; Alfredo Guzman Salazar, 37; Ovidio Guzman Lopez, 33; and Ivan Guzman Salazar, 40.

“El Chapo” himself is serving a life term in the federal supermax prison near Florence, Colorado, after being convicted in 2019 on drug, firearms, and money laundering charges.

The State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program is offering up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Ovidio Guzman Lopez, Alfredo Guzman Salazar, and Ivan Guzman Salazar, and up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Joaquin Guzman Lopez.

“Today, the Justice Department is announcing significant enforcement actions against the largest, most violent, and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The cases … exemplify the comprehensive approach the Justice Department is taking to disrupt and hold accountable those who bear significant responsibility for the fentanyl epidemic.”

“And all of the agencies represented here today exemplify the whole-of-government commitment the United States is making to that effort.”

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco remarked that the fentanyl crisis goes beyond the United States and Mexico.

Attacking ‘Every Aspect’ of Threat

“Today’s indictments reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to attacking every aspect of this threat—and the cartels that drive it—from the chemical companies in China that spawn fentanyl precursors, to the illicit labs that produce the poison, to the networks and money launderers and murderers that facilitate its distribution,” she said during the press conference.

Monaco also noted that the fight against fentanyl is not just offline.

“It’s no longer enough to protect our children from drug dealers in the park or on the street corner—because now those drug dealers ply their deadly trade on social media apps running on the phones in our kids’ pockets,” she said.

In a DOJ press release, Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, explained the poisonous nature of the Sinaloa Cartel is and the work her agency did against the group.

“The Chapitos pioneered the manufacture and trafficking of fentanyl—the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced—flooded it into the United States for the past eight years and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans,” she said.

“Over the last year and a half, the DEA proactively infiltrated the Sinaloa Cartel and the Chapitos network, obtained unprecedented access to the organization’s highest levels, and followed them across the world,”  Milgram continued.

Also on April 14, the Treasury Department announced it is sanctioning two entities tied to China for allegedly “supplying precursor chemicals to drug cartels in Mexico for the production of illicit fentanyl intended for U.S. markets.”

According to the DOJ, “fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18–49, and it has fueled the opioid epidemic that has been ravaging families and communities across the United States for approximately the past eight years.”

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