The infamous Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was extradited to the United States from Mexico on Thursday, coming on the final day of Barack Obama’s presidency and following months of legal wrangling on the part of Guzman’s attorneys.
Extradition of El Chapo
Guzman was extradited to New York, where he pleaded not guilty to the indictment leveled against him.
One report indicated that DEA agents took custody of Guzman in Juarez, Mexico, located roughly 6 miles from the Texas city of El Paso. After assuming custody of Guzman, the agents departed with him for New York.
Many analysts did not expect Guzman to be extradited to the United States until February, at the earliest. According to security analyst Alejandro Hope, the hastiness of Guzman’s extradition was likely not a coincidence.
They decided not to give Trump an early victory with the extradition of El Chapo.
Guzman faces further indictments in the United States in Chicago, California, New Hampshire, Texas, and Florida. The charges against him include money laundering, murder, and drug trafficking, among others.
The back story
Guzman has long been a thorn in the side of both Mexican and international law enforcement, having been active in the Mexican drug trade since the 1980s.
In 1993, following a feud with the Tijuana Cartel that culminated in an attempt on his life, Guzman fled to Guatemala. He was captured by law enforcement officials and sent back to Mexico.
Eight years later – as the Mexican government was reportedly readying plans to have him extradited to the United States – Guzman successfully escaped from prison by hiding in a bale of laundry.
While on the lam, Guzman managed to transform his Sinaloa drug cartel into one of the most prolific, profitable, and powerful drug trafficking outfits on the planet. He would remain on the loose until his recapture in 2014.
After spending just one year in the maximum security Altiplano prison on the outskirts of Mexico City, Guzman successfully escaped again, this time by using an underground tunnel.
During his second period on the run, Guzman sat for a clandestine interview with Hollywood star Sean Penn, in which the infamous drug lord bragged about his extralegal activities.
I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.
Guzman – whose net worth is estimated to be at around $1 billion – was recaptured in January 2016 in the Mexican coastal city of Los Mochis.
Since his capture, Guzman’s attorneys fought against the extradition efforts, with the fear that the U.S. justice system would be more stringent in prosecuting their client than would that of Mexico.
Guzman’s extradition to the U.S. followed one final rejection by a Mexican court of a request by Guzman to avoid the transfer. He reportedly landed with the DEA on Thursday night at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York.