Feds putting squeeze on El Chapo cartel in Chicago, Mexico

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nearly four months after the elusive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was recaptured, prosecutors in Chicago and in Mexico City are squeezing his Sinaloa cartel and operatives.

Chapo has gone back and forth with Mexican and U.S. authorities about his extradition to face federal charges in Chicago or New York. There have been nearly two dozen filings by his attorneys suggesting various positions on extradition. The latest, filed earlier this month, states that the cartel boss "will do everything in his power to prevent extradition." That follows other court filings in Mexico where he pledged to drop any extradition fight-pending American agreement to place in in medium security once here.

All of El Chapo's appeals have been denied by Mexican authorities, but tonight the extradition issue appears no closer to being resolved than it was in early January when he was arrested.

As that judicial jockeying continues south of the border, in Chicago the chief money launderer for Chapo's Sinaloa cartel has pleaded guilty moving more than $1.5 million in drug money between the U.S. and Mexico over a two-year period.

Edgar Manuel Valencia "the Fox" Ortega admitted to money laundering as part of a cocaine enterprise that supplied the drug to Chicago and Los Angeles. Ortega, 28, appeared on Wednesday before U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo. His appearance commanded little attention because it was simultaneous with that of Dennis Hastert.

Ortega was arrested in Las Vegas two years ago coming off a flight from Mexico and then brought to Chicago. Pleading guilty, Ortega avoids a trial but still faces possibly more than 20 years prison and deportation, according to the plea agreement. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 3 in Chicago and is in custody at the MCC.
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