Guzman’s extradition to US could take one year

Extradition process of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to US could take more than twelve months

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman captured for a third time, in Sinaloa, Mexico, January 09, 2016.

Drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sits in the same prison he previously escaped while his extradition process to the United States continues, Mexican officials say it could take at least a year.

His surprise interview with Hollywood star Sean Penn late last year has helped the Mexican government catch Guzman, with pictures released online showing that authorities were monitoring the US actor.

Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez said the meeting was an "essential element" that led to Guzman's capture.

His cell floor at the Altiplano prison is now reinforced with metal rods and a military tank sits outside to prevent another escape.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto had promised to keep Guzman behind bars and try him in Mexico, even though the drug boss had already fled from another prison in 2001.

The director of international procedures, Jose Manuel Merino, had criticised Nieto’s decision by saying the president can’t make the decision on extradition, the responsible authority is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Two days after Guzman’s capture, US authorities launched the extradition process based on charges including drug trafficking and homicide.

Gomez told Radio Formula that the average extradition timeframe is one year but it could take up to five years.

Guzman was granted a temporary ruling against extradition on the day of his arrest and a court will now have to dictate on its validity.

Some experts say that the government could try a “fast-track” extradition to hasten the process and Gomez vowed to fight any injunction.

A “tough” legal battle could reach the Supreme Court according to Guzman’s lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo.

It took 17 months for Guzman to escape from the Altiplano maximum-security facility after his subordinate dug a 1.5-kilometer tunnel that led to a hole in his cell’s shower floor.

The decision to put Guzman in the same prison was defended by officials, saying security was intensified to avert another escape.

"I think it's safe to assume that they understand that the world is watching how this case moves forward and that this individual needs to stay behind bars," says US State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Guzman was nearly nabbed in a military raid in the state of Durango on October 6, but troops couldn’t shoot because he was with a girl and two women.

A raid that left five suspects dead in Los Mochis, six months after his prison break, had brought the runaway to an end.

Guzman escaped through a hidden tunnel behind a mirror that led to the city’s stormwater drainage but was later caught after he came out of a manhole and stole a car on gunpoint.

TRTWorld and agencies