January 20, 2017
One the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Mexico has extradited Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the country’s most powerful drug lord, to face trial in the US.
Mr Guzmán, at one time credited with smuggling half of all the illicit drugs entering the US, twice escaped from maximum security jails in Mexico, most recently in 2015 through a tunnel under his shower. He was recaptured a year ago after fleeing a safe house through another tunnel, crawling through storm drains and trying to get away in a stolen car, writes Jude Webber in Mexico City.
The Sinaloa Cartel boss had been fighting extradition by filing a battery of injunctions and claiming he had been mistreated in the jail in Ciudad Juárez, on the border with Texas where he has spent the past months.
His whereabouts were not immediately clear. One foreign ministry official said he believed he may be in New York, but no one at the attorney-general’s office could be reached for comment and the US Department of Justice said it would be announcing the time and place of Mr Guzman’s presentation in court at a later date.
The notorious drug lord, whose nickname means “shorty”, is charged in six separate indictments throughout the US.
“The Justice Department extends its gratitude to the Government of Mexico for their extensive co-operation and assistance in securing the extradition of Guzmán Loera to the United States,” it said in a statement.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said that a Mexico City court had earlier in the day denied an injunction filed by Mr Guzmán, who had been turned over to authorities in the US where a tougher life behind bars awaits than much of his experience in jail in Mexico.
According to different reports, he was either smuggled out of jail in a laundry cart or walked out brazenly disguised as a policeman when he broke out of a maximum security jail in 2001. He spent 13 years on the run, apparently invisible to the authorities.
His spectacular 2015 jailbreak led to a huge manhunt in which he slipped through Mexican security forces’ grasp repeatedly, but nonetheless managed to meet Hollywood actor Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo, a Mexican actress, in a jungle hideout for an interview over tequila.
The timing of Mr Guzmán’s extradition is full of irony. Mr Trump has railed against Mexico, saying it does not send its best people to the US. During the election campaign, the New York billionaire said “we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get ‘em out”. Mexico, at the US’s behest, has now sent its most notorious.
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