'El Chapo' facing extradition to the US after recapture

Sunday 10 January 2016 08.19
Guzman was returned to prison in Mexico yesterday
Guzman was returned to prison in Mexico yesterday

Authorities in Mexico have recaptured one of the country’s most notorious criminals Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera who will now face hearings for his possible extradition to the US.

The Mexican attorney general's office said the proceedings are based on two extradition requests made by US authorities last year, but it did not indicate when they would start.

"With Guzman Loera's recapture, the respective extradition proceedings will have to start," the office said in a statement, noting that prosecutors obtained two arrest warrants for his extradition last year.

Guzman has been returned to the same prison he escaped from six months ago, in a boost for the beleaguered government.

The head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel was captured in a car wearing a filthy vest after fleeing through tunnels and drains from a raid on a safe house in the city of Los Mochis, in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Mexico's president, Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted: "Mission accomplished: We have him. I want to inform all Mexicans that Joaquin Guzman Loera has been arrested."

For him, the capture of a trafficker who twice slipped out of Mexican prisons is a sorely needed victory after his presidency was tarnished by graft and human rights scandals and the shame of the kingpin's flight from the maximum security Altiplano prison in July.

It also provides relief to US-Mexico relations, strained by suspicion of high-level collusion given the apparent ease with which Guzman gave Mexican authorities the slip.

Recaptured Mexican drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman presented to the media

He was caught early yesterday after Mexican marines raided his safe house, killing five and capturing six of Guzman's henchman.

They pursued the drug lord through the northern city's drains and caught him after a car chase through the outskirts, Attorney General Arely Gomez said.

He was flown to Mexico City and later transferred in a naval helicopter back to the Altiplano.

Guzman, whose nickname means "Shorty", first escaped prison in 2001 by bribing prison officials, and went on to dominate the world of Mexican drug trafficking.

He was recaptured by Mr Pena Nieto's government in 2014 but escaped in July by capitalizing on the drug-tunneling skills his cartel honed on the US border.

A mile-long tunnel equipped with electric lights, rails and a motorbike came out directly into the shower of his prison cell and he simply slipped away.

The escape heaped embarrassment on the country's president, who had resisted a US request to extradite Guzman and had said previously that an escape would be "unforgivable".

Dozens of people were arrested over the jailbreak, though details of who Guzman bribed and how his accomplices knew exactly where to dig into the prison remain scarce.

His recapture involved Mexican marines, the US Drug Enforcement Administration and US Marshals, a senior Mexican police source and a US source said.