Mexico Says the Narco ‘El Mini Lic’ Ordered This Journalist’s Murder. Will the US Hand Him Over?
Mexican authorities want a Sinaloa cartel leader’s son extradited, but he’s already cooperating with U.S. law enforcement.
A federal judge in Mexico has issued an arrest warrant for the son of a former Sinaloa cartel boss accused of ordering the murder of a legendary Mexican journalist, but the quest for justice in the high-profile killing remains far from over.
The suspect, Dámaso López Serrano, aka “El Mini Lic”, is already in jail in the United States. But it’s unclear when — or even if — U.S. authorities will send him back to Mexico to stand trial for allegedly ordering two gunmen to assassinate Javier Valdez Cárdenas on May 15, 2017.Advertisement
was gunned down in broad daylight just steps away from the offices of
RioDoce, the weekly newspaper in Culiacán, Sinaloa, where he was a
cofounder and regular columnist. Attacks on journalists have become
tragically common in Mexico in recent years, but Valdez’s brazen murder
sent shockwaves across the country and around the world. Beloved for his
gregarious yet gruff personality and revered for his nuanced and
fearless reporting on organized crime, Valdez was the recipient of The
Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award. Immediately, his death prompted widespread calls for Mexican authorities to find and convict the killers.
Right away, suspicion for Valdez’s murder fell on López Serrano. His father, Dámaso López Nuñez, aka El Licenciado, had been a top lieutenant to Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán for years. El Chapo is rumored to be Mini Lic’s godfather. But after El Chapo was extradited to the U.S. in January 2017, a war erupted between El Licenciado and El Chapo’s sons. Valdez chronicled the power struggle for RioDoce, and prior to his death he authored a piece that was critical of Mini Lic, referring to him as a “weekend gunman” who wasn’t fit to fill his father’s shoes.
In 2018, almost a full year after Valdez’s murder, Mexican authorities arrested two cartel gunmen, identified by the nicknames El Quilo and El Koala, and charged them in connection with the killing.