The Mexican government aims to fulfill the request to extradite the recaptured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States to face drug trafficking charges, sources for Reuters said on Saturday.
The American request and the answer from the Mexican attorney general’s office came only a day after Inquisitr reported the notorious cartel leader was arrested after six months on the run from authorities. Guzman had been living as a fugitive ever since his elaborate escape from Mexico’s Altiplano Federal Prison on July 11, 2015.
Guzman faces numerous federal drug trafficking charges in various jurisdictions and major cities all across the U.S., including Chicago, which has named him Public Enemy No. 1 — the first since Al Capone.
Joaquin Guzman, a.k.a. “El Chapo” (roughly translated as “Shorty”), is the head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel which smuggles multi-ton shipments of cocaine and marijuana internationally. They are also known for the manufacture and transportation of methamphetamines and heroin, mostly sold within the United States.
He was apprehended on Friday by Mexican authorities, allegedly with the assistance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marshals, though Mexico has declined to confirm U.S. involvement in the operation. His arrest was the end result of an extensive six-month manhunt before he was captured in the northwestern Mexican town of Los Mochis and transported shortly thereafter to Altiplano, the same maximum-security prison from which he famously escaped in July.
NBC News quoted a source within the Justice Department regarding the extradition requests on Friday.
“I can confirm that it is the practice of the United States to seek extradition whenever defendants subject to U.S. charges are apprehended in another country.”
DEA is extremely pleased at the capture of Chapo Guzman. We congratulate the MX Government and salute the bravery involved in his capture— DEA News (@DEANEWS) January 8, 2016
Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr also confirmed that after Guzman’s original 2014 arrest, the United States submitted full extradition requests to Mexico. While details are scarce, the request for trial in the United States most likely comes from concerns that “El Chapo” could use his enormous fortune to bribe his way out of prison or engineer yet another jailbreak.
His stunning escape from a maximum security facility in July 2015, in which his associates tunneled him out of the maximum-security prison in an elaborate and planned operation, was not the first time the drug lord has escaped from prison; in fact, it was not even his second.
The security camera footage of his July escape can be found below.
When the U.S. made the initial extradition request, according to NBC News, “Mexico resisted, declaring it a matter of national sovereignty and brushing aside concerns that he’d already escaped from prison previously, in 2001.”
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch addressed the capture of “El Chapo” in a statement published by Reuters.
“Guzman’s latest attempt to escape has failed, and he will now have to answer for his alleged crimes, which have resulted in significant violence, suffering, and corruption on multiple continents.”
Lynch’s statement did not directly address the extradition issue.
Mexico’s willingness to extradite Guzman is a rather sharp turnaround from their position after his last capture. According to the Chicago Tribune, an unnamed federal law enforcement official said, “Mexico is ready. There are plans to cooperate with the U.S.,” though he spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment.
While the Mexican government may be willing to fulfill the extradition request for “El Chapo,” it could be a long time before U.S. prosecutors get their hands on the famed kingpin due to the judicial process involved. Guzman’s attorney Juan Pablo Badillo further claimed that the defense has already filed six motions to challenge the extradition.
The Tribune also quoted Alejandro Hope, identified as a security analyst living in Mexico, as saying he fully believed Mexico would grant the request.
“They have to extradite him,” Hope said. “It’s almost a forced move.”
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Guzman’s capture in a tweet.
Misión cumplida: lo tenemos. Quiero informar a los mexicanos que Joaquín Guzmán Loera ha sido detenido.— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) January 8, 2016
[AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo]