Sons of ‘El Chapo’ charged with fentanyl trafficking after shifting family business toward the deadly drug

Streaming HUBMay 2, 2023

Prosecutors revealed that the son of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, serving a life sentence, his sons carried on the family business in fentanyl, a network of laboratories churning out large quantities of the cheap, deadly drug. set up the network, prosecutors disclosed in a recent indictment.

Although Guzmán’s trial revolved around cocaine shipments, the case against his sons exposes the inner workings of a cartel in a generational shift as it seeks to “manufacture the most potent fentanyl and sell it to the lowest price in the United States.” to sell at cost” works. The arraignment opened on April 14 in Manhattan.

Synthetic opioids – mostly fentanyl – now kill more Americans than have been killed in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, feeding an argument among some politicians that cartels should be branded terrorist organizations and the US military. That should inspire once-unimaginable calls for intervention. Limit.

Alejandro Hope, a security analyst in Mexico, said, “The problem with fentanyl, as some people at the State Department told me, has to be reset. It’s not a drug problem, it’s a poison problem.” “Very few people intentionally go out looking for fentanyl.”

The groundwork for the US fentanyl epidemic was laid more than 20 years ago, with the aggressive over-prescribing of the synthetic opioid oxycodone. As US authorities clamped down on its prescriptions, users switched to heroin, which the Sinaloa Cartel happily supplied.

But making their own fentanyl – far more potent and versatile than heroin – in small, easily concealed labs was a game changer. The cartel went from its first makeshift fentanyl lab to a network of labs centered in the northern state of Sinaloa in less than a decade.

El Chapo’s son captured in Sinaloa in Mexican military operation: report

Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said, “These are not super labs, because they give people the illusion that they’re like pharmaceutical labs, you know, very sophisticated.” “These are nothing more than metal tubs and they use wooden paddles – even shovels – to mix the chemicals.”

A single cartel “cook” could press fentanyl into 100,000 counterfeit pills every day to fool Americans into thinking they are taking Xanax, Percocet or oxycodone. The indictment states that son Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar smuggled the pills in to supplies that are “the streets of the junkies”.

Prosecutors said that fentanyl is so cheap to make that the cartel makes huge profits even on bulk sales of the drug at 50 cents per pill.

The power of the drug makes it especially dangerous. The narcotic dose of fentanyl is so close to the lethal dose that a pill sure to get a high for a habitual user could easily kill a less experienced person who didn’t know they had fentanyl in it.

Between August 2021 and August of last year, more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, most of them from synthetic opioids. Last year, the DEA seized more than 57 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription pills, according to the New York indictment.

son of el chapo

Ovidio Guzmán López, son of cartel boss “El Chapo”, is shown being taken into custody in Culiacan, Mexico, on October 17, 2019. Ovidio’s brothers, Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar and Jesus Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, are the principal defendants among the 23 indicted accomplices. Along with running a criminal enterprise in New York, fentanyl smuggling. (CEPROPIE via AP File)

Prosecutors said that in order to protect and expand that business, the “chapitos,” as the sons are known, have turned to inciting violence.

Key defendants Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar and Jesus Alfredo Guzmán Salazar are among the 23 accomplices charged in the New York indictment. Ovidio Guzmán López, aka “The Mouse,” who allegedly pushed fentanyl into the cartel, has been indicted in another indictment in the same district. Mexico arrested him in January and the US government has requested his extradition. Joaquin Guzman Lopez has been indicted in the Northern District of Illinois

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According to the Guzmán Salazar indictment, the cartel conducts some laboratory tests on its product, but conducts more gruesome human tests on kidnapped rivals or addicts, who are injected until they overdose.

Prosecutors said the purity of the cartel’s fentanyl “varies greatly depending on the method and skill of the particular manufacturer.” Even after a user overdosed on one batch, it was shipped to the US

When the elder Guzmán and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada led the Sinaloa Cartel, it operated with some degree of restraint. But with Guzmán serving a life sentence and Zambada suffering health problems, Chapitos moved aggressively to avoid a power vacuum that could fragment the cartel.

“The Sinaloa Cartel and El Chapo really had a unique advantage, which was the ability to keep the violence in check,” said Wanda Feldbach-Brown, a senior fellow at the Strobe Talbot Center for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Brookings Institute.

The comprehensive New York indictment against the Guzmán Salazar brothers details their penchant for feeding their pet tigers to enemies and describes how they tortured two Mexican federal agents, with a corkscrew through the muscles of one. and then stuffed the hole with chili peppers before shooting him.

The indictment also provides context for some of the recent violence in Mexico.

In August 2022, gunmen from El Paso, Texas, opened fire in Ciudad Juárez. Two prison inmates and nine civilians were killed in the city. US prosecutors say Chapitos’ security branch ordered his local gang associates to carry out violence targeting rival cartels’ businesses.

“This is not his father’s Sinaloa cartel,” said Felbach-Brown. “These guys operate in a very different mindset than their fathers.”

The Guzmán Salazar indictment makes a preliminary attempt to disrupt the cartel’s supply chain, naming four people linked to a China-based chemical company and a broker in Guatemala who allegedly helped the cartel obtain the chemicals and sell them here. Even instructed them on the best recipes for fentanyl.

“When they talk about labs and you’re trying to focus on labs, it’s not going to have an impact until you get to finished products or advanced chemicals,” Vigil said.

Mexico’s government has wobbled through mixed messaging from its security forces, while President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said fentanyl is not being produced in Mexico.

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In congressional testimony on Thursday, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram was pressed on whether Mexico and China are doing enough to cooperate with the US

“We want Mexicans to work with us and we want them to do more,” Milgram said, adding that the DEA will not hesitate to go after public officials in Mexico or anywhere else it finds evidence of ties to the cartel. should meet.

Experts say López Obrador has been an obstacle to cartels slowing fentanyl production. After US prosecutors announced a concerted effort against the Sinaloa cartel, López Obrador reacted angrily. The president accused the US government of “espionage” and “interference”, suggesting that the case was built on information gathered by US agents in Mexico.

Experts said the president had already severely curtailed Mexico’s cooperation with the DEA.

Hope, the security analyst, said a fundamental problem is that López Obrador does not understand the danger of fentanyl. The President voices against the decline of family values ​​in the United States and portrays addiction as a moral failure.

“He’s trapped in a moral universe from 50 years ago,” Hope said.

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