Apparent Successor to ‘El Chapo’ Pleads Guilty to Federal Trafficking Charges

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A Sinaloa Cartel cell leader believed to be the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leader ever to self-surrender in the United States pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in federal court Wednesday.

Dámaso “Mini Lic” López Serrano, godson of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and one of the possible successors of the Sinaloa cartel, pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from two 2016 indictments, one returned by a federal grand jury in San Diego in August and another returned in Virginia in December.

In the August 2016 indictment, Lopez Serrano was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine intended for importation and conspiracy to import methamphetamine, heroine and cocaine.

Lopez Serrano was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine intended for importation in the December 2016 indictment.

Lopez Serrano, 29, signed his guilty plea in the Southern District Court of California, based in San Diego, the Justice Department said in a statement.

In his appearance at the California court, Lopez Serrano admitted to being one of the leaders of one of the factions of the Sinaloa cartel and admitted organizing thousands of kilograms of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico to the United States.

He also pleaded guilty to another charge related to the possession of firearms to promote the drug trafficking activities of the Sinaloa cartel. Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the Southern District Court of California set the sentencing hearing for July 12.

“Mini Lic” is the son of Dámaso “El Licenciado” López Núñez, and considered the successor of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was extradited from Mexico to the United States on January 19, 2017, and will be tried in September for 17 crimes, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

“El Licenciado” was considered the right hand of Guzmán, especially after he was captured for the last time in January 2016 in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, but entered into a dispute with Jesús Alfredo and Iván Archivaldo Guzmán, sons of “El Chapo”, for the control of the cartel.

The Department of Justice said Lopez Serrano turned himself in to American authorities at the Calexico West Port of Entry on July 27, 2017.

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