Mexico turns over drug lord ‘El Chapo’ to the US

One of the world's most wanted drug kingpins, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has been extradited from a prison in northern Mexico to be tried in Texas and California for murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and money laundering.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Mexican organised crime syndicate Sinaloa Cartel, became a prison break legend after escaping from two high-security detention centres in Mexico.

Updated Jan 21, 2017

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been extradited to the US, the Mexican foreign ministry said on Thursday, one day before Donald Trump assumes the US presidency. The extradition process started in January 2016.

Guzman departed Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for New York City, US at 3:15 pm local time, according to a US official. Guzman will be tried in Texas and California, said the Mexican court in a statement.

Joaquin Guzman, 59, is considered one of the world's most wanted drug lords. He was captured in January 2016 after having escaped from prison.

The head of the Sinaloa cartel has been wanted by the US for his crimes ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder in Chicago, Miami and New York. He is charged in six separate indictments throughout the US.

TRT World's Harry Horton reports from Washington DC with more on this story.

"The government ... today handed Mr Guzman Loera to the US authorities," the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to a court decision on Thursday which rejected a legal challenge by his lawyers against extradition. 

Guzman is "en route to the United States to face criminal charges in connection with his leadership of the Mexican organised crime syndicate known as the 'Sinaloa cartel'," said the US Justice Department.

"It's a good thing to finally get him to the US side," said a senior US law enforcement official based in Mexico.

End of the El Chapo saga?

Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel, escaped from two Mexican high-security prisons in the years of 2001 and 2015. His eventual capture and now extradition closes one of the most high-profile chapters in contemporary drug mafia sagas.

Forbes called him "the world's most powerful drug trafficker," and said he amassed a fortune worth over $1 billion. His cartel raked in over $3 billion annually, according to Forbes. 

Sinaloa, which is Spanish for "signal", controlled the supply of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine to North America.

The city of Chicago named him "Public Enemy No 1" in 2013, a title previously reserved for Al Capone, according to CNN.


TRTWorld and agencies