Mexican drug lord Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán will take one step closer to being sent for trial in the United States on September 26 when a court in Mexico City hears an extradition request from the US authorities.
But even if the court accepts the petition, Guzmán’s lawyers have said they will appeal to the country’s Supreme Court to prevent the man who once headed the world’s largest drugs cartel from leaving the country.
The Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in much of the US for two decades
Guzmán has already filed numerous appeals and injunctions related to criminal charges and to the United States’ request to extradite him. One of the first injunctions was filed in January soon after Guzman’s arrest. It would block any extradition order for Mexican authorities to extradite Guzman to the United States.
But handing Guzmán over to the US has become a matter of state in Mexico following his embarrassing escape in July 2015 via a tunnel under his cell from a maximum security prison. Once he was recaptured, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto made it clear he would cooperate fully with the United States.
El Chapo now finds himself increasingly alone and unprotected. A turf war has broken out in northern Mexico that in August saw a rival gang kidnap his youngest son. His mother’s house, in his home state of Sinaloa, was ransacked earlier in the year.
Guzmán’s reign is over. His only hope now is to avoid extradition to the United States. “If we reach agreement we will withdraw the appeals,” his lawyer, José Refugio Rodríguez, has said.
The US authorities are refusing to budge and say that there will be no deals until he faces trial in the United States and pleads guilty.
The courts disagree whether the January injunction is valid, as it was filed months before the US extradition order was approved by Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Whether or not the injunction is valid would determine which court has jurisdiction.
Guzmán’s reign is over. His only hope now is to avoid extradition to the United States
Guzmán’s defense team argues the injunction is valid, citing a newspaper article in which Peña Nieto admitted ordering an accelerated extradition process against Guzmán.
His appeals against extradition could take one to three years to conclude, assuming he goes all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in much of the United States for two decades.
Guzmán first escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing prison guards, and was re-captured in February 2014. He was captured again in the city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa on January 8 after escaping again, this time from the Altiplano Federal Prison in July 2015.
English version by Nick Lyne.