May 20, 2016 – (Reuters) Mexico approved the extradition of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States on Friday after receiving guarantees he would not face the death penalty, and the kinkgpin’s lawyers vowed to block the move.
Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told Reuters he would file “many” legal challenges in the coming days, which could delay the drug lord’s eventual extradition for weeks.
Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, was the world’s most wanted drug kingpin until his capture in January, six months after he broke out of a high-security penitentiary in central Mexico through a mile-long tunnel burrowed right up into his cell.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said he would face charges including drug trafficking, money laundering and murder in U.S. federal courts in California and Texas. The ministry said it was given “sufficient guarantees” by the U.S. government that Guzman would not be executed. It was not immediately clear where Guzman would be sent in the United States.
A U.S. Justice Department official confirmed that the United States had agreed not to seek the death penalty, but declined to discuss any further details about the case or what the department will do pending a Guzman appeal.
Asked whether he would file legal challenges on behalf of Guzman, Badillo said: “Of course. Five, 10, whatever is necessary.”
Guzman’s escape last year was a major embarrassment to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who entered office amid a bloody war between the government and drug cartels launched by his predecessor.