San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
El Chapo

Judge approves extradition of Mexican drug lord Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that a tribunal in Mexico City ruled against Guzmán. But his lawyer immediately told AFP he would appeal the ruling to a higher court.

The Foreign Ministry approved the Sinaloa drug cartel chief’s extradition in May, but his lawyers fought the decision in district court.

The tribunal in the capital, which had been reviewing the case since September 26, “decided to reject the protection” sought by Guzmán, the attorney general’s office said.

One of Guzmán’s lawyers, Andrés Granados, said he would pick up court documents on Tuesday and that from there he would have 10 business days to appeal. He also vowed to seek a Supreme Court hearing.

“We are not defeated,” Granados told AFP, adding that he could still take the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The lawyer said he suspects the government is seeking to violate Guzmán’s due process by speeding up his extradition.

Guzmán was recaptured in January, six months after his brazen escape from a maximum-security prison near Mexico City through a 1.5-kilometer tunnel that opened into his cell’s shower.

National Security Chief Renato Sales said last week that the government hopes to arrange Guzmán’s extradition by January or February 2017. A U.S. government official has told AFP that the extradition process could finish earlier, by the end of this year.

Guzmán is facing two extradition bids, one in California for drug distribution and another in Texas on charges that include murder and money laundering. His extradition would set up a major trial in the United States for the head of a cartel accused of providing tons of drugs to addicts in the United States while fueling violence in Mexico.

Guzmán was captured in February 2014 after 13 years on the lam, but his escape a year later was a major humiliation for President Enrique Peña Nieto. After the slippery drug kingpin was recaptured in January in his northwestern home state of Sinaloa, Peña Nieto demanded his speedy extradition.

The president had balked at extraditing Guzmán before his July 2015 escape, preferring to put him on trial in Mexico.

Guzmán is now imprisoned in Ciudad Juárez, on the border with Texas.

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