Possible extradition for 'El Chapo' could be lengthy process

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican marines had barely faced down .50-calibre sniper guns and a loaded grenade launcher to recapture the world's most notorious drug lord when the calls started coming: Extradite Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States.

See Full Article

And soon.

Mexico's leaders avoided talk about extradition following Guzman's capture early Friday, but even if they decided to send him to the U.S., the process likely would not be fast. For now, they have sent him back to the Altiplano maximum-security prison from which he escaped in July.

Guzman, head of the powerful, international Sinaloa Cartel, was presented late Friday in dark blue athletic clothing. He was frog-marched to a helicopter by marines, who stopped mid-transit and turned his expressionless face toward the media for a clear view.

The calls for his quick extradition were the same as after the February 2014 capture of Guzman, who heads the powerful Sinaloa Cartel and faces drug-trafficking charges in several U.S. states. At the time, Mexico's government insisted it could handle the man who had already broken out of one maximum-security prison, saying he must pay his debt to Mexican society first.

Then Guzman escaped a second time last July 11 under the noses of guards and prison officials at Mexico's most secure lock-up, slipping out a tunnel so elaborate that it showed the country's depth of corruption while thoroughly embarrassing the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

In celebrating Guzman's latest capture, Mexican officials showed none of their bravado of two years ago, though they made clear that the intelligence building and investigation were carried out entirely by Mexican forces. They did not mention extradition.

"They have to extradite him," said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst in Mexico. "It's almost a forced moved."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate, echoed that sentiment, demanding that Guzman be immediately turned over to U.S. authorities. "Given that 'El Chapo' has already escaped from Mexican prison twice, this third opportunity to bring him to justice cannot be squandered," Rubio said.

Pena Nieto went on Twitter to announce the capture: "Mission accomplished: we have him."

Guzman, a legendary figure in Mexico who went from a farmer's son to the world's top drug lord, was apprehended after a shootout between gunmen and Mexican marines at the home in Los Mochis, a seaside city in Guzman's home state of Sinaloa.

Apparently Guzman thought his story was worthy of Hollywood. Part of the reason authorities tracked him down to a house in an upscale neighbourhood in a coastal city was because he wanted to film a biopic, Attorney General Arely Gomez said late Friday at the airport ceremony where the prisoner was shown off to the press.

"For that he established communication with actresses and producers, which became a new line of investigation," she said.

Friday's operation resulted from six months of investigation and intelligence-gathering by Mexican forces, who located Guzman in Durango state in October, but decided not to shoot because he was with two women and a child, she said. After that he took a lower profile and limited his communication until he decided to move to Los Mochis in December.

Gomez said that one of Guzman's key tunnel builders led them to the neighbourhood in Los Mochis where authorities did surveillance for a month. The team noticed a lot of activity at the house Wednesday and the arrival of a car early Thursday morning. Authorities were able to determine that Guzman was inside the house, she said.

The marines decided to close in early Friday and were met with gunfire. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One marine was injured.

"You could hear intense gunfire and a helicopter; it was fierce," said a neighbour, adding that the battle raged for three hours, starting at 4 a.m. She refused to be quoted by name in fear for her own safety.

Gomez said Guzman and his security chief, "El Cholo" Ivan Gastelum, were able to flee via storm drains and escape through a manhole cover to the street, where they commandeered getaway cars. Marines climbed into the drains in pursuit. They closed in on the two men based on reports of stolen vehicles and they were arrested on the highway.

The troops took them to the roadside hotel Doux, where they awaited reinforcements, Gomez said.

In 2014, Guzman evaded capture by fleeing through a network of interconnected tunnels in the drainage system under Culiacan, the Sinaloa state capital.

"The arrest of today is very important for the government of Mexico. It shows that the public can have confidence in its institutions," Pena Nieto said later in a public address. "Mexicans can count on a government decided and determined to build a better country."

What happens now is more crucial for Guzman, whose cartel smuggles multi-ton cocaine shipments and marijuana and manufactures and transports methamphetamines and heroin, mostly to the U.S.

The United States filed requests for Guzman's extradition last June 25, just days before he escaped from prison. In September, a judge issued a second provisional arrest warrant on U.S. charges of organized crime, money laundering, drug trafficking, homicide and others. But Guzman's lawyers already had filed appeals and received injunctions that could delay the extradition process for months or even years.

At the home in Los Mochis, Marines seized two armoured vehicles, eight rifles, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the home in Los Mochis, the navy's statement said.

Photos of the arms seized showed that two of the rifles were .50-calibre sniper guns, capable of penetrating most bullet-proof vests and cars. The grenade launcher was found loaded, with an extra round nearby. An assault rifle had a 40-mm grenade launcher and at least one grenade.

"The arrest is a significant achievement in our shared fight against transnational organized crime, violence, and drug trafficking," the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a statement.

After his first capture in Guatemala in June 1993, Guzman was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He reportedly made his 2001 escape from the maximum security prison in a laundry cart, though some have discounted that version.

His second escape last July was even more audacious. He fled down a hole in his shower stall in plain view of guards into a mile-long tunnel dug from a property outside the prison. The tunnel had ventilation, lights and a motorbike on rails. Construction noise as a digger broke through from the tunnel to his cell was obvious inside the prison, according a video of Guzman in his cell just before he escaped.

Associated Press writers E. Eduardo Castillo, Mark Stevenson, Christopher Sherman and Maria Verza in Mexico City and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Thousands march on 2nd anniversary of Kremlin critic's murder

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of Russians marched through the centre of Moscow on Sunday to honour opposition leader Boris Nemtsov two years after he was gunned down near the Kremlin walls, and to call for further investigations into his killing. Source
  • Canadian man travels to Turkey to get aid to besieged family in Libya

    Canada News CTV News
    A Canadian man whose family is trapped in a militant-controlled area in the Libyan city of Benghazi has travelled to Turkey in effort to assemble an aid shipment for civilians in the conflict-ridden neighbourhood. Ali Hamza, of Mississauga, Ont. Source
  • One winning ticket for Saturday night's $5M Lotto 649 jackpot

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- There is one winning ticket for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw, and it was sold somewhere in Ontario. The winning ticket for the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize was also purchased in Ontario. Source
  • Taliban leader encourages people to plant trees

    World News CTV News
    KABUL -- Springtime in Afghanistan usually brings a spike in violence as the Taliban takes advantage of the thaw to launch a wave of fresh attacks. But the Taliban's leader has just issued a statement calling on Afghans to plant more trees. Source
  • Fire at large Swedish refugee centre injures at least 15

    World News CTV News
    HELSINKI -- Swedish police say at least 15 people have been injured when a fire broke out overnight at one of the country's largest refugee centres outside of Vanersborg in southwestern Sweden. Police spokesman Tommy Nyman says two people were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries after jumping out of a second-floor window to escape the blaze and 15 people in all were treated for smoke inhalation. Source
  • Letter-writing former Iran president pens dispatch to Trump

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter Sunday to President Donald Trump, striking a somewhat conciliatory tone while applauding immigration to America and saying it shows "the contemporary U.S. belongs to all nations. Source
  • Quebec's clogged justice system needs big culture change, say lawyers, academics

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- During the summers of 2015 and 2016 McGill University professor Jason Carmichael tried to study what factors influenced sentencing outcomes for people convicted of drunk driving -- but he ran into a problem. Source
  • Fox News' Swedish 'security advisor' has heads scratching

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A trans-Atlantic wave of puzzlement is rippling across Sweden for the second time in a week, after a prominent Fox News program featured a "Swedish defence and national security advisor" who's unknown to the country's military and foreign-affairs officials. Source
  • Malaysia: Poisoning of Kim caused paralysis, quick death

    World News CTV News
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's health minister said Sunday that the dose of nerve agent given to North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un's exiled half brother was so high that it killed him within 20 minutes and caused "very serious paralysis. Source
  • Multi-vehicle crash on Toronto highway sends 7 to hospital with minor injuries

    Canada News CBC News
    A multi-vehicle crash on Highway 401 in the eastbound and westbound express lanes near Avenue Road sent seven people to hospital with minor injuries early Sunday, Toronto paramedics say. Ontario Provincial Police said in a tweet that several vehicles collided in Highway 401's eastbound and westbound express lanes east of Avenue Road shortly after 1 a.m. Source