Mexico agrees to extradite 'El Chapo' Guzmán to the US

Mexico Approves Extradition of Drug Lord 'El Chapo'
Mexico Approves Extradition of Drug Lord 'El Chapo'

The Mexican government announced on Friday that it had approved the extradition of Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, which had been requested by the US government last year.

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According to the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry's announcement, Guzmán was notified that Mexico had agreed to the request for him to be processed before the US District Court for Western Texas on charges of criminal association, organized crime, weapons possession, homicide, and money laundering.

He will also face charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine in the District Court for the Southern District of California.

The US has guaranteed that Guzmán will not face the death penalty, the ministry told Bloomberg in an email, which is a condition of the US-Mexico extradition agreement.

Guzmán's defense team now has 30 days to file an injunction against extradition, something his attorneys have said they will do, The Associated Press reports.

"And we have to understand that Chapo Guzmán has the best attorneys that money can buy in Mexico. He's got a legal team that are doing nothing more than filing injunctions," Mike Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider earlier this week.

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"They actually filed an injunction based on Trump's statements that Mexico is sending all the murderers and rapists to the United States, saying as a result of Trump's statements he could not get a fair trial or due process here in the United States," Vigil added.

The injunction process means that months could remain before Guzmán's extradition is finalized.

Guzmán is currently jailed in a Mexican federal prison just outside of Ciudad Juarez, only miles from El Paso, Texas.

He was moved without notice early this month, and his relocation was followed quickly by two Mexican judges signing off on the legal proceedings involved in his extradition.

Their rulings sent the extradition request to the foreign ministry for approval, though many doubted that it would sign off so soon.

While the Mexican government's announcement names Southern California's and Western Texas' district courts as where he will face charges, the Sinaloa kingpin has also been charged in five other US courts, including district courts in New York and Florida.

There has been speculation that US prosecutors would negotiate with Guzmán once he arrives in the US.

But the strength of the cases against him suggest to some that prosecutors will not be so inclined.

"There's a lot of evidence. There's a lot of individuals that will be testifying, a lot of wire-intercept evidence, things of that nature ... cooperating individuals," Vigil said. "So the case is strong against him, and I think they're going to want to see him put away for the rest of his days."

"The US government always has more leverage, particularly in a case like this where he is facing life in prison," Marcos Jimenez, a former US attorney for the Southern District of Florida, told Business Insider in an email earlier this week.