MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Ovidio Guzman, a son of incarcerated Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been extradited to the United States, where he is wanted on fentanyl trafficking charges, Mexican and U.S. authorities said on Friday.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Ovidio had been extradited, calling it the latest step in U.S. efforts to attack “every aspect” of the drug trafficking operations run by the Sinaloa Cartel long associated with the Guzman family.

“I am also grateful to our Mexican government counterparts for this extradition,” Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic that has devastated too many communities across the country.”

Guzman, one of the heirs to his father’s trafficking empire, was briefly arrested in the northern city of Culiacan in 2019 but released on the orders of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to avoid bloodshed when his cartel struck back.

He was captured in January after an intense firefight in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Two Mexican officials familiar with the matter also confirmed Guzman’s extradition.

Mexican media including news network Milenio reported that Guzman had been taken out of a maximum security prison in central Mexico to be flown across the border.

The U.S. government asked for Guzman’s extradition in February so he could face drugs charges in a U.S. court.

According to U.S. court documents, Guzman and his brothers allegedly controlled extensive international operations in the fentanyl trade, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profits by “flooding” the United States with the deadly opioid.

In 2021, the State Department offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Ovidio’s arrest or conviction.

His father, “El Chapo” Guzman rose to prominence at the helm of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was extradited to the United States in 2017 after twice escaping from prison in Mexico. The elder Guzman is now at a high-security “Supermax” lock-up in Colorado.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by William Mallard)

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