(USA TODAY) — Convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman can be extradited to the United States, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said Friday.
The process can still be appealed, which means it could take weeks or months before the Sinaloa cartel leader may be sent north. Guzman’s lawyers have 30 days to appeal the decision.
Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told Reuters he would file “many” legal challenges in the coming days.
If the extradition goes through, Guzman, who has escaped Mexican prisons twice and led authorities on a months-long search in 2015, will be transferred to U.S. Federal District Court for the Western District of Texas, according to a Mexican government website. The charges are conspiracy, organized crime, weapons possession, murder and money laundering. He will also be prosecuted in the Southern District of California on charges related to cocaine trafficking, according to the Mexican authorities.
The department said Friday that the United States has guaranteed that Guzman would not face the death penalty, which is not applied in Mexico.
Guzman made world headlines in July when he slipped out of his cell in the maximum security Altiplano federal prison and through a mile-long tunnel to freedom. The dramatic escape prompted a worldwide manhunt which concluded in January with his arrest following a deadly shootout in Los Mochis, a Mexican coastal city of 250,000 in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa.
Attorney General Arely Gómez González said the search had drawn few valuable clues until Guzman reached out to actors and producers and began planning a biopic. That tipped off investigators to his location, and Gómez said a journey to the rugged Sierra Madre by American actor Sean Penn drew authorities to Guzman.