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‘El Chapo’ moves to block extradition to US

By AFP | Feb. 25, 2014 at 09:01pm

MEXICO CITY—Mexico’s powerful drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sought Monday to prevent extradition bids by the United States, where he faces charges for smuggling massive amounts of cocaine.

Federal prosecutors in New York announced plans to request Guzman’s extradition, while several other US cities have indicted him on a slew of other offenses.

The 56-year-old Sinaloa cartel boss is already facing drug trafficking and organized crime charges at home, with a Mexican judge required to decide by Tuesday whether to put him on trial.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said the government is expecting a US request and did not rule out extraditing Guzman.

“The security cabinet will have to meet to decide what’s best,” Osorio Chong told Radio Formula.

After 13 years on the lam, the 56-year-old drug lord was captured by Mexican marines in the Pacific beach town of Mazatlan on Saturday following a US-backed manhunt that involved cellphone taps and use of a drone.

His beauty-queen wife, Emma Coronel, who is in her mid-20s, and their two-year-old twin daughters were present during the arrest but later set free because “they had absolutely nothing to do with the criminal actions,” said Osorio Chong.

Guzman’s lawyers filed documents on Sunday and Monday seeking an injunction to prevent any extradition. A Mexican judge must decide whether to approve the injunction.

Legal experts said Guzman could be extradited to the United States before a Mexican trial or after being convicted here. Authorities could also decide to wait until he serves his full sentence in Mexico.

“From the moment that the United States requests the extradition, the foreign ministry had 30 days to decide whether to accept or reject the request,” Julio Hernandez Barros, law professor at Iberoamericana University, told AFP.

Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, said Guzman’s injunction bid, known as an “amparo,” is a tactic “to stay in Mexico and delay the case.”

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