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Cartel kingpin Damaso Lopez Nuñez extradited to the U.S. as a key witness against “El Chapo”

July 8, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
Cartel kingpin Damaso Lopez Nuñez extradited to the U.S. as a key witness against “El Chapo”

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The government of Mexico extradited former Sinaloa Cartel capo Damaso Lopez Nuñez also known as “El Licenciado” Friday to the United States to face drug trafficking charges.

Lopez Nuñez was transported around 5 a.m. Friday under heavy security from a maximum security prison near Ciudad Juarez to the local airport where he was turned over to a massive contingent of U.S. Marshals, The Washington Post reported.

The action taken by the Mexican government occurs as the US Justice Department prepares to prosecute Lopez Nuñez’s former boss, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is slated to stand trial in September.

Guzman was extradited in 2017 to Brooklyn to face a 17-count indictment for running the Sinaloa Federation Cartel, a transnational criminal enterprise responsible for importing tons of narcotics into the United States annually.

Damaso Lopez Nunez was transported under heavy security Friday to an airport in Chihuahua where he was flown to the United States

“Lopez Nuñez’s arrest and extradition demonstrate the commitment of the United States and our partners in Mexico to the pursuit of drug traffickers who seek to flood our streets with addictive and deadly poisons, for their own illicit gain,” acting US Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan said on Friday.

Lopez Nuñez faces a pair of federal indictments for conspiring to distribute cocaine and money laundering charges in Virginia’s Eastern District.

If convicted, “El Licenciado” or “The Bachelor” the nickname given because of his college degree, faces life in prison.

However, in a statement following the extradition, Mexico’s acting Attorney General, Alberto Elias Beltran, called Damaso Lopez Nuñez “a key witness against Guzman.”

Lopez Nunez could be a key witness against Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in his upcoming trial

Beltran also said the Mexican government would suspend any open cases against Damaso Lopez Nuñez until the indictments in the United State are resolved.

Additionally, Lopez Nuñez’s son and brother both self-surrendered to US authorities in 2017 and could also testify as potential witnesses against Guzman during his upcoming trial.

Damaso Lopez worked as a former law enforcement official in Mexico and helped Guzman flee a Mexican prison in 2001, the first of “El Chapo’s” two infamous prison escapes.

“El Licenciado” went to work for the Sinaloa Cartel becoming Guzman’s right-hand man.

Damaso Lopez climbed the ranks of the criminal syndicate, eventually forming his own cartel faction known as “Los Damaso.”

US Drug Enforcement officials say information obtained from top-level informants have revealed Lopez Nuñez was tasked with negotiating massive cocaine transactions with major South American suppliers.

Following Guzman’s arrest in 2016, Lopez-Nuñez was locked in a violent internal power struggle with Guzman’s two sons and longtime partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada for control of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The state of Sinaloa soon became engulfed in violence as a result of Lopez-Nuñez’s hostile takeover attempt.

Mexican authorities arrested Damaso Lopez Nuñez in a Mexico City suburb back in 2017.

Prior to his capture, officials said El Licenciado had sought an alliance with the ruthless Jalisco New Generation Cartel in his quest to control the Sinaloa Cartel.

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