The Justice Department announced charges Friday against more than two dozen people including three sons of the drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and other members of the notorious Sinaloa cartel. The crackdown is part of a far-reaching fentanyl trafficking investigation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced fentanyl trafficking, weapons, and money laundering charges filed in the Southern District of New York, the Northern District of Illinois and Washington, D.C.
The charges target "the largest, most violent, and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world — run by the Sinaloa cartel, and fueled by Chinese precursor chemical and pharmaceutical companies," Garland said.
Known as "Chapitos," El Chapo's sons — Ivan Guzmán Salazar, Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Ovidio Guzmán López — are among those named in the indictments. Lopez was captured by the Mexican military in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in January. He remains detained in Mexico pending extradition.
Their co-conspirators also facing charges include manufacturers and distributors of the Sinaloa cartel's fentanyl; leaders of the operation's security forces; weapons suppliers, drug lab operators, money launderers and suppliers of the drugs used to make the fentanyl that originated in China, according to the Justice Department.
"The Chapitos pioneered the manufacture and trafficking of fentanyl — the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced — flooded it into the United States for the past eight years and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said.
Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 40. It's a dangerous synthetic opioid that is more than 50 times more potent than heroin, the Justice Department said.
"Between 2019 and 2021, fatal overdoses increased by approximately 94%, with an estimated 196 Americans dying each day from fentanyl," the agency said.