The Mexican government said Saturday it had started the process to extradite captured cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera to the United States, where he would face organized crime, drug and money laundering charges – and presumably find it harder to escape from prison for a third time.
“With the capture of Guzmán Loera it should start the respective extradition proceedings, which, according to the Extradition Law, has several steps,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
The office gave no timetable for the process, though Guzmán, upon being notified, had three days to contest the extradition and 20 days to present evidence in his defense. Guzmán also had the right to seek injunctions against his extradition, but the attorney general’s office says he had unsuccessfully sought similar actions while on the lam for the past six months.
U.S. officials twice requested Guzmán’s extradition in July and August of 2015 after he had slipped out of a maximum-security prison through an almost mile-long tunnel. Federal judges accepted the requests and issued arrest warrants for the purpose of extradition.
The extradition issue has been a thorny one for Mexico, which preferred to imprison Guzmán near Mexico City instead of sending him to the United States – in spite of fears he might escape.
Extradition requests made after his February 2014 arrest, but prior to his escape, were denied. The then-attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam infamously said Guzmán would go to the United States after serving his sentence in Mexico, “(In) about 300, 400 years.”
Extraditions of cartel bosses have been carried out since Guzmán’s most recent escape. Texas-born enforcer Edgar Valdéz Villarreal, better known as “La Barbie,” plead guilty to drug charges in an Atlanta court last week.
Some in Mexico expressed opposition to the extradition of high-profile criminals, however.
“I don’t see it as correct that to pay for the sins of Mexican authorities, their responsibilities should be discharged in another country,” said Francisco Martínez Neri, leader of the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party in the lower house of Congress.
SOURCE: David Agren and Katharine Lackey