MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Sons of former Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman denied U.S. allegations that they were major traffickers flooding the United States with synthetic opioid fentanyl, addressing the claims against them in a rare letter.
The U.S. Justice Department last month charged leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel with trafficking fentanyl and other drugs, including four sons of El Chapo, the cartel’s one time leader who is now imprisoned in the U.S.
The letter was sent on behalf of El Chapo’s four indicted sons known as “Los Chapitos,” or little Chapos, including Ovidio Guzman, who was captured in Mexico in January and awaits extradition to the United States.
“We have never produced, manufactured or marketed fentanyl or any of its derivatives,” the sons wrote in the letter, published by Mexican news outlet Milenio late on Wednesday.
The letter was shared with Milenio by Jose Refugio Rodriguez, who when contacted by Reuters confirmed he is the Guzman family lawyer.
In the letter, the sons say they are not the Sinaloa Cartel’s leaders but rather are the victims of an international misinformation campaign by companies, the media and public figures that has painted them to be notorious drug traffickers.
Their letter was in response to a press conference on April 14 in Washington, DC, where senior U.S. officials said the Sinaloa Cartel was the main supplier of illicit fentanyl to the United States.
They also singled out Los Chapitos as key figures in the Sinaloa Cartel, blaming them for worsening the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Mexico and the United States agreed last month to ramp up efforts to stop the trafficking of fentanyl, which has driven a surge in overdose deaths in the United States.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Boyle and Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Chris Reese)