Mexico’s Fox claims authorities fear Chapo extradition

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox says authorities put off extradition of drug cartel leader ‘El Chapo' because they fear he could reveal information about corrupt politicians

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

An illustration of Joaquin Guzman Loera aka El Chapo

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said Tuesday that authorities have yet to extradite drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman because they fear that he could "spill the beans" about corrupt politicians.

"If I were president, I would extradite him immediately," Fox, who led the country from 2000 to 2006, told AFP in an interview at his Centro Fox office located at a ranch in central Guanajuato state.

"Why hasn't he been extradited? Perhaps because there is fear that he will squeal, that he will spill the beans."

President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration refused to extradite Guzman after he was arrested in February 2014 and the Sinaloa drug cartel leader humiliated the authorities by escaping through a tunnel 17 months later.

After Guzman was recaptured in January, Pena Nieto changed his mind and called on the attorney general's office to speed up the extradition process.

Guzman's lawyer said last week that the capo himself wants to be extradited quickly because the prison conditions are unbearable.

But Fox spoke of "those who are afraid of this."

Asked whether he was referring to claims that Guzman bought off politicians for protection, Fox said: "I don't doubt it for a minute."

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox gestures while speaking during an interview with AFP at the Fox Center in San Francisco del Rincon, Guanajuato state, Mexico on March 8, 2016.

A woman identified as Guzman's daughter is among those who made the accusations.

Fox noted, however, that all the major parties, including his former National Action Party and Pena Nieto's PRI, have had their share of scandals.

"He who is not guilty, let him cast the first stone," he said.

"The infiltration of narco money in politics is a constant danger. It is a way of laundering money, but also of getting cushy jobs and getting power directly."

Fox has his own embarrassing history with Guzman.

The former Coca-Cola executive had been in power for less than two months when Guzman made his first spectacular prison break, reportedly fleeing a maximum-security penitentiary inside a laundry cart in January 2001.

"He wouldn't have escaped from the first prison if it not had been for corruption. He wouldn't have escaped a second time if it not had been for corruption," Fox said.

The authorities have arrested more than 30 people in connection with Guzman's July escape, including cartel associates, prison guards, the warden and the head of the nation's penitentiary system.