Cartel sons dispute allegations of tiger-feeding and fentanyl trafficking in latest letter

MEXICO CITY- The sons of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, have denied accusations made by U.S. prosecutors that they were involved in the production and trafficking of fentanyl. In a letter provided to The Associated Press by the Guzmán family’s lawyer, the brothers claimed they had “never produced, manufactured or commercialized fentanyl nor any of its derivatives.” They also denied being the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel.

The accusations were made in court documents last month that detailed how the Sinaloa cartel had become the largest exporter of fentanyl to the United States, resulting in tens of thousands of overdose deaths. El Chapo is serving a life sentence in the United States for drug trafficking. His sons, known collectively as the “Chapitos,” are the lead defendants among 23 associates charged in a New York indictment.

The indictment alleges that the “Chapitos” and their cartel associates have used violence to concentrate power, including torturing Mexican federal agents and feeding rivals to their pet tigers. The brothers deny this as well, saying they do not even have tigers. According to the indictment, the brothers have also used corkscrews, electrocution, and hot chiles to torture their rivals. They are also accused of using waterboarding to torture members of rival drug cartels and associates who refused to pay debts.

Photo Courtesy: US State Dept.

Mexico arrested Ovidio Guzmán in January and has seized some fentanyl laboratories, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has repeatedly denied that Mexico produces the drug and accused U.S. authorities of spying and espionage after the indictments were unsealed. In January, El Chapo sent an “SOS” message to López Obrador, alleging that he has been subjected to “psychological torment” in prison.