Extradition proceedings against Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’ begin

Published: Monday 11th January 2016 by The News Editor

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Mexico began the process of extraditing drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the US, two days after the fugitive was recaptured following a dramatic, months-long hunt featuring film stars, sewer escapes and bloody shoot-outs.

Officials warned the process could take a long time as Guzman’s lawyers file legal appeals and manoeuvre to keep their client in Mexico, where he has already escaped from maximum security prisons twice.

On Sunday, agents formally notified Guzman that he was wanted in the United States.

The attorney general’s office said Mexican agents assigned to the international police agency Interpol served two arrest warrants to the drug lord, who is being held at the Altiplano prison following his capture by Mexican marines on Friday.

Guzman’s defence now has three days to present arguments against extradition and 20 days to present supporting evidence, beyond the many other appeals they have already started filing.

Guzman’s powerful Sinaloa cartel smuggles huge shipments of cocaine and marijuana as well as manufacturing and transporting methamphetamines and heroin, mostly to the US.

He is wanted in various US states and his July escape deeply embarrassed the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto and strained ties between the countries.

Guzman’s lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo, has said the defence has already filed six motions to challenge extradition requests.

He said that his client should not be extradited to the US because “our country must respect national sovereignty, the sovereignty of its institutions to impart justice”.

On Saturday, a Mexican law enforcement official said the quickest Guzman could be extradited would be six months, but even that is not likely because of the many appeals filed by his lawyers.

He said that the appeals are usually turned down, but each one means a judge has to schedule a hearing.

“That can take weeks or months, and that delays the extradition,” he said. “We’ve had cases that take six years.”

Mexico’s willingness to extradite Guzman is a sharp turnaround from the last time he was captured in 2014.

Then-attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam said the extradition would happen only after he finished his sentence in Mexico in “300 or 400 years”.

Guzman was caught on Friday after a shoot-out between gunmen and Mexican marines at a house in Los Mochis, a seaside city in his home state of Sinaloa. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One marine was injured.

Mexican authorities say actor Sean Penn’s contacts with Guzman helped them track the fugitive down – even if he slipped away from an initial raid on the hideout where the Hollywood actor apparently met him.

Published: Monday 11th January 2016 by The News Editor

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