Mexico fast tracking 'El Chapo' extradition

January 22, 2016, 8:52pm

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter at a federal hangar in Mexico City. (Eduardo Verdugo, AP) on News24

AFP on News24

Davos - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday his country is working to extradite recaptured drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman for trial in the United States as soon possible.

The Mexican attorney general's office is pursuing charges against Guzman while also working on his extradition, the president said at an annual gathering of billionaires and political leaders in the snow-covered Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.

"The instruction is to accelerate its work to obtain his extradition as soon as possible," Pena Nieto said.

The Mexican administration was deeply embarrassed when Guzman escaped a maximum-security prison through a tunnel on July 11, just 17 months after marines had arrested him in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa.

The Mexican authorities launched a massive manhunt that led to his recapture on January 8 in the seaside Sinaloa city of Los Mochis - a triumph that ended up having to share headlines with US actor Sean Penn's bombshell revelation that he met Guzman three months before his capture.

While the Mexican government seeks to ship Guzman across the border, a tank is positioned outside the Altiplano prison west of the capital and a cell's floors have been reinforced with metal rods to prevent another tunnel.

The extradition effort marks a reversal from Pena Nieto's refusal to send Guzman to the United States prior to his July escape from the maximum-security facility.

The Mexican authorities have warned, however, that the extradition process could take a year or more with Guzman's lawyers vowing a tough legal battle.

Some experts say the government could try a "fast-track" extradition manoeuvre to speed up the process.