Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday he’s ordering officials to accelerate the extradition of recaptured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to the United States.
Mexico had balked at extraditing Guzman after he was captured in 2014, but his escape from a top-security prison in July apparently changed officials’ minds.
Pena Nieto said he’d told his Attorney General’s office to “achieve the extradition of this highly dangerous delinquent as soon as possible.”
He made the comments during a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Mexican marines captured Guzman on Jan. 8, six months after he tunneled out of a top-security Mexican prison — his escape from a maximum security lockup.
The Sinaloa Cartel chief is wanted on multiple charges in both Mexico and the US.
Officials have already said they plan now to extradite Guzman, but have said the process could take a year or more of legal wrangling.
Most observers believe that Guzmán will eventually end up in the US. The key word is “eventually,” however, as the legal and political processes are likely to delay his extradition.
“The reality is extradition takes a long time. It’s a very complicated process … especially cases like this, where the individual in question has a lot of resources to challenge extradition in court,” David Shirk, a University of San Diego professor and director of the school’s Justice in Mexico program, told Business Insider.
“It’s also procedurally quite complex because you’re dealing with law-enforcement agencies, diplomatic agencies, on both sides of the border that are processing these things,” Shirk added.
On January 10, the Mexican government said that it activated the extradition process for Guzmán. But according to a former US federal prosecutor,
the pace of this procedure is still largely up to the Mexican government.
José Manuel Merino, the official in charge of international processes for the Mexican attorney general’s office, also said on January 11 that the extradition process could take at least a year or more because of such filings.
“If [Guzmán] puts up resistance it could take four to six years,” Manuel Merino added.
Christopher Woody contributed to this report.
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