Peña Nieto administration officials began floating the idea Saturday of extraditing Sinaloa Cartel capo Joaquín Guzmán to the United States. Mexico had consistently resisted the idea of extradition, but that was before El Chapo escaped a second time.
Mexico is willing to extradite drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to the United States, a federal law enforcement official said Saturday. It’s a sharp reversal from the official position after his last capture in 2014.
“Mexico is ready. There are plans to cooperate with the U.S.,” said the official, who spoke on condition anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment.
But he cautioned that there could be a lengthy wait before U.S. prosecutors can get their hands on Guzmán, the most-wanted trafficker who was recaptured Friday after six months on the run: “You have to go through the judicial process, and the defense has its elements too.”
Top officials in the party of President Enrique Peña Nieto also floated the idea of extradition, which they had flatly ruled out before Guzman’s embarrassing escape from Mexico’s top maximum security prison on July 11.
“He has a lot of outstanding debts to pay in Mexico, but if it’s necessary, he can pay them in other places,” said Manlio Fabio Beltrones, president of Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party.
But even if Mexican officials agree, Guzmán’s attorney Juan Pablo Badillo told the Milenio newspaper that the defense already has filed six motions to challenge extradition requests.
“They can challenge the judge, challenge the probable cause, challenge the procedure,” said Juan Masini, former U.S. Department of Justice attache at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. “That’s why it can take a long time. They won’t challenge everything at once … they can drip, drip, milk it that way.”
— Written by E. Eduardo Ccastillo and Katherine Corcoran from The Associated Press