Extradited ‘El Chapo’ Guzman arrives in U.S.; hearing set for Friday

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Mugshot of El Chapo after his arrest on January 8, 2016 by the prison he escaped from in summer 2015. El Chapo has been extradited to the United States, according to a statement by the Mexican Foreign Ministry on January 19, 2017.

WASHINGTON — Reputed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who became a legend in Mexico through his prison escapes and staying just ahead of the law, was extradited Thursday and transported 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.

Federal agents flew him into New York Thursday night.

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A court in Mexico City on Thursday denied Guzman’s appeal of the extradition.

The U.S. Justice Department confirmed the announcement from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry and said he faces six separate indictments.

Guzman was picked up by a team from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. marshals. He was taken to New York, where he will be held in Manhattan.

“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,” it said in a statement.

Guzman and other cartel leaders were indicted in 2009 in U.S. 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.

He also faces charges in Arizona, California, Texas, Illinois, New York, 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.

The kingpin was captured last January. He was transferred from the maximum-security Altiplano lockup in central Mexico, from which he escaped in 2015, to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, near the U.S. border.

In August, his 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.

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 before he was captured.