TIME Mexico

U.S. Seeks Extradition of Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’

The drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, guarded by members of Mexican navy, was arrested at a hotel in Mexico on Feb. 22, 2014
The drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, guarded by members of Mexican navy, was arrested at a hotel in Mexico on Feb. 22, 2014 Bloomberg—Getty Images

U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn among those wanting to indict kingpin for drug trafficking

U.S. prosecutors want drug-cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to face trial in the U.S. and are now seeking to extradite Mexico’s most wanted man.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn confirmed on Sunday it is requesting Guzmán’s extradition on a variety of charges, along with a number of attorney’s offices around the country. “We plan to seek his extradition,” said Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the attorney’s office.

Guzmán was captured in a predawn raid on Saturday by Mexican and U.S. authorities in the beach-resort town of Mazatlán in northwestern Mexico, about 135 miles (217 km) from Guzmán’s suspected base in Culiacán.

The drug lord allegedly led the powerful Sinaloa cartel, which was responsible for bloodbaths and pitched battles in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, eventually amassing $1 billion and making it onto Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful people.

Guzmán’s drug empire stretched across North America and even extended into Europe and Australia, so it remains unclear where he will be tried. He is on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted list and faces a number of federal indictments.

“This guy, he ran a global enterprise, so he’s big. He’s as big as Pablo Escobar,” Nardoza tells TIME. “He may wind up being charged in Mexico first. We don’t know what the time line is and how exactly this is going to proceed … He’s facing a lot of time in prison based on the charges we’ve brought against him.”

Guzmán would face a wide range of drug trafficking and organized-crime charges in the U.S. An indictment acquired from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York — where Guzmán allegedly carried out much of his criminal activity beginning in 1990 — alleges that the drug lord is guilty of trafficking over 100,000 tons of cocaine in the U.S.

Drug violence in Mexico has claimed the lives of nearly 80,000 people in the past seven years, especially along key smuggling routes in the northern and western regions where police, local politicians and journalists are regularly assassinated by the powerful drug cartels.

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