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Judge in Mexico Says El Chapo Can Be Extradited to U.S.

A Mexican judge has ruled that the country's most notorious drug lord, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, can be extradited to the United States, where he would face federal charges of drug trafficking and far slimmer chances of escaping prison, as he has done twice in his home country.

The ruling essentially creates the basis for the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Mexico to grant the final approval for the extradition of Mr. Guzmán, known as El Chapo, or Shorty, within the next 30 days.

"The ball is now in the Foreign Ministry's court, and they have a month to execute the process or not," said a spokesman for the judiciary in Mexico who could not be identified because of government policy. "They have been notified and received the file."

Mr. Guzmán's lawyers were notified of the judge's decision on Friday night, and Mr. Guzmán was told on Sunday, during his transfer to another prison in Ciudad Juárez, near the border with Texas.

"There is nothing, legally speaking that could impede the extradition, from the judicial system point of view," the judiciary spokesman said.

The saga of Mr. Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has spanned the better part of a decade and a half in Mexico. After a 2001 escape, he was captured in 2014 during a raid by the Mexican Marines. A year later, he escaped again, this time through a mile-long tunnel that ran to the floor of his cell's shower.

The decision to extradite Mr. Guzmán was made shortly after his recapture in January of this year. Having lost him twice, the government decided that rather than risk a third embarrassment, it would hand him over to the United States, where he faces charges in numerous jurisdictions. Convictions would keep him imprisoned for a long time.

An American law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the case, said the Mexican authorities had decided to relocate Mr. Guzmán to a prison in Juárez on their own. The official added that an extradition could still be months away.

No decision has been made on which federal court in the United States would try him, but the courts in Brooklyn and Chicago are considered strong options.

[Source: By Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas, The New York Times, Mexico City, 09May16]

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small logoThis document has been published on 20May16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.