A man believed to be the godson of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, who turned himself in to U.S. authorities amid a bloody power struggle over the Sinaloa cartel, was indicted on drug smuggling charges in San Diego federal court Monday.
Damaso Lopez Serrano, also known as “Mini Lic”, and an associate identified as Nahum Abraham Sicairos Montalvo, who goes by “Kinceanero,” are accused of doling out pounds of drugs to smugglers and smuggling drugs into the United States themselves from about May 2005 to August 2016.
Court documents don’t specify the exact amount of drugs the two are accused of funneling into the country, but state it was more than a pound of methamphetamine, more than two pounds of heroin and more than 11 pounds of cocaine.
The men are also suspected of laundering money into the United States “with the intent to promote… the distribution of controlled substances,” court records said.
Lopez Serrano pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin intended for importation, conspiracy to import meth, cocaine and heroin, and conspiracy to launder money. Sicairos-Montalvo faces those same charges.
Lopez Serrano surrendered to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on July 27 at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in Calexico, officials said. He was then taken into custody by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, the Mexican news wire service EFE reported.
Mexican authorities had been looking for him in nearby Mexicali, the news agency said.
Lopez Serrano is the son of — and got his nickname from — Damaso Lopez Nuñez, who goes by “El Licenciado” or the graduate. The father was reputed to be one of Guzmán’s top leaders in the Sinaloa Cartel.
The younger man has a playboy reputation and often posted of his lavish lifestyle on social media. His Instagram is littered with pictures of scantily clad women, men with guns, gold-plated weapons and exotic pets including a tiger.
After Guzmán was arrested in Sinaloa in January 2016, Lopez Nuñez allegedly launched an effort to wrest control of the cartel, especially from the drug lord’s two sons, who go by “Los Chapitos,” according to news reports.
The friendly relationship Lopez Serrano and Guzmán’s sons once shared apparently deteriorated as the struggle for power escalated.
In May, Lopez Nuñez was arrested by Mexican authorities in May at a high-rise tower in Mexico city. His son’s surrender to U.S. authorities soon followed.
Other high-level targets close to Guzmán’s empire have often been nabbed along this stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last month, Guzmán’s alleged mistress and a former Mexican legislator, Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López, was taken into custody while trying to enter San Diego at the Cross Border Xpress airport terminal.
She has been indicted on a conspiracy charge of helping the cartel launder money and will be tried in Washington, D.C.