Mexico on Friday extradited international drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known as “El Chapo”, to New York on the eve of United States President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. The extradition concludes a decades-long mission to prosecute the kingpin, who became symbolic of the failed war on drugs in the region. Mexican officials said the handover was a last-minute gift to outgoing US President Barack Obama and a peace offering to Trump, who has repeatedly criticised the country, Reuters reported.
The 59-year-old smuggler’s career began in opium and cannabis-farming and expanded to include what is believed to be the largest transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation with a presence in Europe and Asia. He managed to escape twice from Mexican prisons during his incarceration and reportedly controlled operations from his cell. The Sinaloa cartel chief is also considered to be a local hero among some sections in Mexico, The New York Times reported.
In 2015 on Twitter, Trump had said he “would kick his [Guzman Loera’s] ass”. The US Justice system thanked Mexico for its cooperation on the extradition. Guzman Loerafaces six separate indictments across the United States, including charges of money laundering, drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder in Chicago, Miami and New York.
Guzman Loera’s lawyer Juan Pablo Badillo said the extradition was not “line with the law”.
In January 2016, Guzman Loera had given an exclusive interview to actor-director Sean Penn before his capture. During the interview, he spoke of his narcotics empire as being the largest in the world and said drugs had been his only option to help provide for his family. He had also described one of his dramatic escapes from prison which involved disappearing through a hole in his shower into a mile-long tunnel and finally escaping on a motorcycle modified to run in a low-oxygen environment.