Extradited 'El Chapo' Guzman arrives in US; hearing Friday

Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who became a legend in Mexico through his dramatic prison escapes and years of staying just ahead of the law, arrived late Thursday in New York after he was extradited to the United States.

Guzman will appear Friday in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn, where he will stand trial at a later date. Stringent security measures were being put in place around the Manhattan jail where Guzman is to be held, a law enforcement source said. The Brooklyn Bridge will be closed while the drug lord is being transported to court.
The extradition appears to be timed. Mexican authorities wanted to turn over Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel, before Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, a US official told CNN. Trump angered Mexico during his campaign by demanding it pay for a border wall.

Guzman, who was moved last year to the border city of Ciudad Juarez, was picked up by a team from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US marshals.

Six separate indictments across the United States lay out wide-ranging cases against Guzman and others, alleging they have brought in billions in drugs to the United States and laundered profits back to Mexico.

The extradition brings an end, at least for now, to Guzman's exploits in Mexico, which included a 2015 prison escape through a mile-long tunnel that featured a motorcycle on tracks.

Guzman will not face death penalty in the US
A court in Mexico City on Thursday denied the drug lord's appeal of the extradition.

The US Justice Department thanked officials in Mexico "for their extensive cooperation and assistance in securing the extradition of Guzman ... to the United States."

Guzman and other cartel leaders were indicted in 2009 in US District Court in Brooklyn on charges of conspiring to import more than 264,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States between 1990 and 2005. The alleged traffickers are accused of sharing drug transportation routes and obtaining their drugs from various Colombian drug organizations.

Guzman also faces charges in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida and New Hampshire. Mexico's Foreign Ministry has said it had received assurances that if convicted Guzman would not receive the death penalty. Mexico opposes death sentences.

Federal indictments described the Sinaloa cartel as an enterprise that utilizes murder, kidnappings and bribes.
The indictments refer to Guzman by various nicknames, including "El Rapido," "Papa," "El Viejo" and "El Chapo" (which means "Shorty." Guzman is 5 feet 6 inches tall.)

Over the years, Guzman gained near-mythic status in his home country. He has been the subject of ballads called "narcorridos," a subgenre dedicated to cartels and their narco-violence.

Tunnels and a laundry cart getaway
For years, the notorious cartel leader proved slippery, staying just ahead of the law. He is known for using intricate tunnel systems for both evading authorities and moving the massive quantities of drugs that made the Sinaloa Cartel so powerful.

Guzman's recapture in January 2016, after six months on the lam, represented a major success in what has been an embarrassing ordeal for Mexico. For many, "El Chapo" is a symbol of the Mexican government's corruption.

In 2001, he escaped from a prison in Jalisco in a laundry cart. Guzman was apprehended in February 2014 and escaped from Altiplano prison in July 2015 by crawling through an opening in the shower area of his cell block leading to a mile-long tunnel.

In August, Guzman's son was kidnapped from a Puerto Vallarta restaurant, in what was perceived as an attempt to exploit the cartel's vulnerability. He was later freed.

'El Chapo' said drug trade would continue
The trafficking of heroin, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico is an annual $19 billion to $20 billion industry, according to a Department of Homeland Security report.

And the Sinaloa cartel has traditionally held a dominant share of that, thanks to Guzman's sophisticated business strategies and Sinaloa's control of trafficking routes.

A Customs and Border Protection report that analyzed seizure data along the border between 2009 and 2010 found that "the removal of key personnel does not have a discernable impact on drug flows" into the US.

"El Chapo" was aware that drug trafficking won't end once he's gone. "The day I don't exist, it's not going to decrease in any way at all," he told actor Sean Penn in an interview in October 2015.

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is made to face the press in this January 2016 file photo [Eduardo Verdugo/AP]

Drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman extradited to US

Mexico's government extradited drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States where he is wanted on drug trafficking and other charges.

Guzman landed in New York late on Thursday to face federal narcotics trafficking and other charges.

A US law enforcement official told The Associated Press news agency that Guzman arrived following a flight from the Mexican border town Ciudad Juarez.

Guzman is expected to appear in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn on Friday.

El Chapo - one of the world's most notorious drug kingpins - twice escaped maximum-security prisons in Mexico, most recently in 2015 via a kilometre-long underground tunnel dug under the shower in his cell.

An indictment in New York accuses him of running a massive drug operation that employed thousands of people, laundered billions of dollars in profits back to Mexico, and used hit men to carry out murders, kidnappings and acts of torture.

A defence lawyer said Guzman was extradited illegally and without notification. He called the transfer "totally political" on the part of the Mexican government.

It was while on the lam a second time, in fall 2015, that he held a secret meeting with actors Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo. The encounter was the subject of a lengthy article Penn published in Rolling Stone magazine last January, right after Mexican marines re-arrested Guzman in the western state of Sinaloa.

In the interview, Guzman was unapologetic about his criminal activities, saying he had turned to drug trafficking at age 15 simply to survive. He's in his late 50s now.

"The only way to have money to buy food, to survive, is to grow poppy, marijuana, and at that age, I began to grow it, to cultivate it and to sell it. That is what I can tell you," he was quoted as saying.

The 2015 escape was highly embarrassing for the government of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and Mexican officials were seen as eager to hand the headache off to the United States afterward. A court denied Guzman's appeal and found his extradition was constitutional, the Mexican Department of Foreign Relations said.

Guzman's lawyers had fought extradition since his 2016 recapture and said Thursday the Mexican government sent him to the United States to distract the public from nationwide protests over gasoline prices.

"It was illegal. They didn't even notify us," lawyer Andres Granados said. "They handled it politically to obscure the situation of the gas price hike. It's totally political."

Besides New York, Guzman faces charges in five other US jurisdictions, including San Diego, Chicago and Miami. He could face the possibility of life in a US prison if convicted.

After his most recent escape, he became something of a folk legend for a segment of Mexico's population for his defiance of authorities. He was immortalised in songs known as narco-corridos, ballads about the drug trade and drug bosses.

Derek Maltz, who headed the DEA's Special Operations Division until his retirement in mid-2014, said the timing of Guzman's extradition less than 24 hours ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as US president could be seen as a show of good faith by Mexico.


Mexican Drug Lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Extradited to U.S.

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been extradited to the United States, Mexico's government said Thursday, a little more than a year after the Sinaloa cartel leader was caught following his brazen escape from a maximum-security prison.

Several U.S. jurisdictions want to try the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel on federal drug trafficking charges, including prosecutors in San Diego, New York, El Paso, Texas, Miami and Chicago.

A plane carrying Guzman landed at MacArthur Airport on Long Island, New York, at around 9:30 p.m., where dozens of U.S. marshals and other law enforcement officers were gathered.

The Justice Department said Guzman was will "face criminal charges in connection with his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the 'Sinaloa Cartel," and is charged in six separate indictments in the U.S.

Guzman was recaptured in January of 2016 in the town of Los Mochis, almost six months after he used an elaborate mile-long tunnel to escape from a maximum-security Mexican prison.

The case took another twist when it was revealed that the actor Sean Penn traveled to Mexico to meet with Guzman in a remote jungle clearing while he was on the run, for an article that appeared in Rolling Stone.

"The Justice Department extends its gratitude to the Government of Mexico for their extensive cooperation and assistance in securing the extradition of Guzman Loera to the United States," the Justice Department said, referring to Guzman's full name of Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera

Guzman slipped into a hole in his shower at Altiplano prison near Mexico City on July 11, 2015 and fled through a mile-long tunnel outfitted with a motorbike that led to a residential construction site.

He was recaptured in a pre-dawn raid by Mexico's navy in the town of Los Mochis on Jan. 8, 2016. Government forces killed five suspects in a shootout during the raid, Mexican authorities said at the time.

Guzman had escaped from a Mexican prison once before, in 2001, purportedly hidden in a laundry cart.

Details about where and when Guzman will first appear in a court in the U.S. were not immediately released. Guzman was first taken to New York upon arriving because an indictment there contains a provision that he must first enter the U.S. in that district, the Justice Department.

U.S. authorities sought extradition after Guzman was arrested in 2014 but Mexico resisted, declaring it a matter of national sovereignty.

Guzman, believed to be 61, has long been a popular anti-hero in Sinaloa and across Mexico for dodging death and evading bullets while turning the multibillion-dollar Sinaloa cartel into one of the world's most powerful — and ruthless — drug trafficking organization.

The Sinaloa cartel has been blamed for thousands of deaths, including the murder of police officers and innocent civilians. A turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels in Ciudad Juárez claimed 10,000 lives between 2008 and 2012, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Guzman oversaw the explosion of subterranean networks used to smuggle massive amounts of narcotics across the U.S. border. U.S. officials have said at the height of the Sinaloa cartel, it was believed to be responsible for up to half the illegal drugs coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

The Drug Enforcement Administration in a 2015 report said that of all the Mexican drug trafficking organizations, the Sinaloa cartel has the largest presence in the U.S.

After his 2001 escape, Guzman outfitted many his safe houses with secret doors that opened to tunnels leading to municipal sewer systems. He used one of them, accessed through the bottom of a bathtub, to shake authorities in February 2014.

He was arrested a few days later and ended up in Altiplano, the prison that he escaped from in July of 2015.

In his Rolling Stone article, Penn said Guzman boasted "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats."

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