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Mexican armed forces have captured and arrested Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged major fentanyl trafficker following in the footsteps of his notorious father, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, The Washington Post reports. Guzmán's second detention in recent years comes just days ahead of President Biden's planned visit to Mexico.
The United States State Department described Guzmán as "a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel" in a press release issued at the end of 2021. The State Department alleges that he is one of several sons of El Chapo who have taken prominent roles in the cartel after their father was extradited to the U.S. in 2017. The U.S. has been seeking the extradition of Ovidio Guzmán and his brother since the Justice Department indicted them for conspiring to distribute drugs in 2018. The State Dept. offered a "reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Ovidio Guzmán-López."
Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval called the arrest a "powerful blow" to drug cartels. However, it sparked a wave of violence throughout the state of Sinaloa, with cartel gunmen creating road blockades and opening fire on planes at the airport in the capital. A similar backlash led to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador releasing Ovidio Guzmán when he was previously arrested in 2019, per the Post.
Mexican authorities consider Guzmán to be a major distributor of fentanyl. Mexico has replaced China as the leading supplier of the drug to the U.S., a development the Post says has alarmed American authorities. In 2021, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. reached the highest number ever, and fentanyl made up two-thirds of the deaths. The Justice Department declined to comment on whether prosecutors have requested extradition following news of the arrest, per The New York Times.