The Justice Department charged 28 members of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel, including sons of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in a sprawling fentanyl-trafficking investigation. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the charges with Drug Enforcement Administration chief Anne Milgram and other top federal prosecutors, reports the Associated Press. The charges were filed against cartel leaders, as well alleged chemical suppliers, lab managers, fentanyl traffickers, security leaders, financiers and weapons traffickers. The indictments charge three of Guzman’s sons — Ovidio Guzmán López, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Sálazar — known as the Chapitos, or little Chapos, and who have earned a reputation as the more violent and aggressive faction of the cartel.
The indictments also charge Chinese and Guatemalan citizens accused of supplying precursor chemicals required to make fentanyl. Others charged include those accused of running drug labs and providing security and weapons for the drug trafficking operation. Nearly 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021. DEA says most the fentanyl trafficked in the U.S. comes from the Sinaloa cartel. The Sinaloa cartel’s notorious drug lord was convicted in 2019 of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation. At Guzman’s trial, prosecutors said evidence gathered since the late 1980s showed he and his cartel made billions of dollars by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S. A defiant Guzman claimed he was denied a fair trial.