Sinaloa Cartel Associate Sentenced to More Than Eleven Years in Prison for Conspiring to Traffic Cocaine in Chicago Area
CHICAGO – OVIDIO GUZMAN LOPEZ, 33, of Culiacan, Mexico, was arraigned in federal court in Chicago today after his extradition last week from Mexico to the United States. Guzman Lopez was arrested in Mexico earlier this year pursuant to a U.S. request for his provisional arrest with a view toward extradition.
Guzman Lopez, also known as "El Raton" and "Raton Nuevo," is charged in the Northern District of Illinois with five-counts in a nine-count superseding indictment alleging that from 2008 to 2021, he engaged in a drug trafficking Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE), along with additional drug, money laundering, and firearm offenses. Guzman Lopez is charged with conspiring to distribute narcotics from Mexico and elsewhere for importation into the U.S. He pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment today before U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago. He waived his right to a detention hearing and was ordered to remain detained without bond.
The charges stem from a decades-long collaboration between the Justice Department's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and prosecutors from the Northern District of Illinois and Southern District of California, as well as their law enforcement partners. Guzman Lopez is one of the sons of Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as "El Chapo," who was convicted by a jury in the Eastern District of New York for his role as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Following Guzman Loera’s arrest in January 2016 and his subsequent extradition to the United States, Guzman Lopez and his three brothers and co-defendants - IVAN ARCHIVALDO GUZMAN SALAZAR, JESUS ALFREDO GUZMAN SALAZAR, and JOAQUIN GUZMAN LOPEZ, collectively known as “the Chapitos” - allegedly assumed their father’s role as leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. The Chapitos subsequently amassed greater control over the Sinaloa Cartel by allegedly threatening and causing violence, the indictment alleges.
Under the terms of the U.S.-Mexico extradition treaty, the United States had up to 60 days to present a fully supported request, one in compliance with the terms of the treaty. The United States submitted that request in February 2023. A Mexican court reviewed the U.S. request and last month favorably recommended his extradition. The Foreign Ministry reviewed the decision and similarly concluded that Guzman Lopez should be extradited to the United States. The three co-defendants remain at large.
The indictment was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Nicole M. Argentieri, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Luis Quesada, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Katrina W. Berger, Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations, and Anne Milgram, Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Substantial assistance in the investigation was provided by IRS Criminal Investigation, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Erskine and Erika Csicsila of the Northern District of Illinois, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Sutton of the Southern District of California, and Trial Attorney Kirk Handrich of NDDS.
The case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles drug trafficking organizations and other criminal networks that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies.
The Justice Department thanks the Government of Mexico, including the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, for the extradition of Ovidio Guzman Lopez. Earlier today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland spoke by phone with Mexico’s Attorney General, Alejandro Gertz Manero, to personally express his gratitude.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.