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US Prosecutors to Seek Mexican Drug Lord's Extradition

Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 05:47 PM


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U.S. prosecutors are seeking to extradite Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States to stand trial, officials said Sunday.

Guzman was arrested Saturday after more than a decade on the run, bringing to an abrupt end the reign of a man accused of being behind much of the drug violence that has killed more than 77,000 people in Mexico during the past seven years.

He has also been branded "Public Enemy No. 1" in Chicago, which says he supplied most of the city's illegal drugs.

The United States, which was involved in the operation that finally snared him, had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture, with several indictments in multiple cities from New York to San Diego.

"We plan to seek his extradition," Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, told AFP.

Guzman will likely face a host of charges in Mexico for running the Sinaloa cartel, but Nardoza noted that he has also been formally charged in several US districts.

"It's unknown how this will proceed at this time," the spokesman added.

Nardoza did not confirm whether or when an extradition request would be submitted to Mexico.

A senior Republican lawmaker backed extraditing Guzman, warning "the biggest fish ever" may try to slip the net again in a repeat of his 2001 escape.

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Asked if he would like to see Guzman hauled before U.S. courts, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said: "I would. I think the normal sequence is Mexico, being a sovereign nation, has the first prosecution."

"However, there's a history here. He escaped from a prison in 2001. There is corruption in that country," the Texas Republican told ABC television's "This Week" program.

"I would ask that the Mexicans consider extraditing him to the United States, where he will be put in a super-max prison under tight security where he cannot escape, and be brought to justice with a life imprisonment sentence," he added.

"I think that would be the best course for not only Mexico, but also the United States, in ensuring that what happened in 2001 does not happen again."

Guzman, whose nickname "shorty" is a reference to his height, gained legendary status after escaping from a maximum-security Mexican prison in a laundry cart in January 2001.

Asked about the likelihood of getting Guzman to the United States, McCaul added: "It depends on the pressure our State Department and administration puts on the current (Mexican) administration to do this."

"I think their preference would be to try him first in the United States. But the track record is not good with this individual. This is an exceptional case. This is the largest, biggest drug lord we have seen in the world," he added.

© AFP 2014

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