Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán's son could well turn snitch on his fugitive brothers, according to a former DEA agent.
Ovidio Guzmán López (known as 'El Ratón' – 'the Mouse') was arrested by Mexican security forces in Culiacan, Sinaloa, in January. His capture sparked a wave of violence across the city that left 30 people dead.
After much bureaucratic back-and-forth he was finally extradited to the US last week. Yesterday (Monday, September 18) he appeared at court in Chicago where he pleaded not guilty to a string of charges related to drug trafficking and money laundering.
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Ovidio, 33, is accused of taking over a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel following his father's arrest in 2016. He and three of his brothers – Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Joaquín Guzmán López – are collectively known as Los Chapitos. The other brothers are still wanted and at large.
Speaking outside the courthouse yesterday, Guzmán family lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman was asked about the possibility of a plea deal. He told reporters Ovidio is "not planning on cooperating" with US authorities against his fugitive siblings.
However, former DEA Special Agent Jack Riley reckons there is a chance Ovidio might do just that. He told ABC7 Chicago: "[With] this son, I possibly could see it."
He continued: "I also think it [Ovidio's arrest] puts pressure on a very weak Mexican government to get this right now. You have to understand that even in our days, with El Chapo being public enemy number one, that was a tremendous embarrassment to the Mexican government. So I think there's going to be some unique pressure to clean this mess up and get these other three in custody."
US authorities are offering a $5,000,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of each of Iván, Jesús and Joaquín.
Los Chapitos penned an open letter denying the accusations against them earlier this year. They said: "We are not and have never been the heads of it [the Sinaloa Cartel] and we are not interested in becoming that… We have never produced, manufactured or commercialised fentanyl nor any of its derivatives… We are victims of persecution and have been made into scapegoats."
Meanwhile, Ovidio is being held at Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center. If convicted he faces life in prison at Chicago's Supermax prison, where his father is a lifetime resident.
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