Ovidio "El Ratón" Guzmán López, son of the Sinaloa Cartel boss known as "El Chapo," pleaded not guilty to multiple drug trafficking and money laundering charges in Chicago on Monday. The 33-year-old Chapo heir was extradited from Mexico to the U.S. on Friday evening. His first court appearance in Chicago was marked by the heavy presence of U.S. Marshals, Courthouse News reports. In a federal indictment issued in January but only unsealed in April, prosecutors accused El Ratón and his three brothers — the "Chapitos," collectively — of taking over the Sinaloa Cartel following their father's own extradition from Mexico to the U.S. in 2017. Mexican authorities captured Guzmán López last January in a raid on his home in the Mexican city of Culiacán, capital of the state of Sinaloa for which the cartel is named. It was the second time the Mexican government had taken El Ratón into custody; security forces caught him in a separate raid in 2019, but ended up releasing him after well-armed cartel members took hostages and began attacking military and civilian targets around the city.
“Today, as a result of United States and Mexico law enforcement cooperation, Ovidio Guzmán López, a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the United States," said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. "This action is the most recent step in the Justice Department’s effort to attack every aspect of the cartel’s operations." El Ratón is currently the only one of the Chapitos in U.S. or Mexican custody, though all are named as defendants in a sprawling, multi-district criminal suit against El Chapo — whose real name is Joaquin Guzmán Loera — and over two dozen other Sinaloa figures dating back to 2009. Garland announced the latest charges against the Chapitos in April alongside Drug Enforcement Administration head Anne Milgram, targeting the brothers for their alleged role in fentanyl trafficking. Under the brothers' watch, the indictment naming Guzmán López claims, the Sinaloa Cartel continued to move large amounts of cocaine, cannabis and heroin into the U.S. from Central and South America. It accuses them of dealing in methamphetamine and other precursor chemicals for synthetic drugs.