Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, has won two court injunctions in Mexico hampering his possible extradition to the United States, suggesting a protracted legal battle lies ahead.
Following a January 21 announcement by Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam that the United States will seek extradition, Guzman’s legal team scrambled to file a legal appeal known for slowing extraditions, called an “amparo.” The provisional injunction requires the government to confirm within 24 hours whether an extradition request has been received, reported Proceso.
While the US State Department has apparently not yet issued a formal request, Murillo Karam has backtracked on previous statements expressing opposition to Guzman’s extradition. According to Forbes, the Attorney General said there would be “no problem to process the request to decide, at the right time, what would be most appropriate.” That statement likely means following his successful conviction in Mexico, which could come as soon as this year.
Murillo Karam previously said that Mexico had “no intention” of sending Guzman to face prosecution in the United States, due to US prosecutors “reaching deals with criminals,” Forbes recently reported.
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Mexican courts have rejected previous attempts by Guzman to block his extradition on the grounds that no formal request had been received. Rumors circulated in February 2014, shortly after Guzman’s arrest, that the United States would seek extradition, yet no formal request materialized.
Given Guzman’s recent legal successes, it appears US authorities face a long battle to get hold of the man who topped many of their “most wanted” lists prior to his capture.
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Extraditions have declined under President Enrique Peña Nieto, with just 19 taking place in the first half of 2013, compared to 579 during predecessor Felipe Calderon's six-year term.
The Peña Nieto administration has generally sought to only extradite criminals already successfully prosecuted in Mexico, in what is likely an attempt to demonstrate the effectiveness of the judicial system.