Mexico Officially Begins Extradition of 'El Chapo' to U.S.

Guzman's lawyers can still file to fight the extradition.

ByDean Schabner
January 10, 2016, 10:54 PM

— -- The extradition process to send drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States was begun today, the Mexican Attorney General's office announced.

The drug kingpin, who was recaptured Friday after six months on the run following his escape from a Mexican prison, was issued two orders of detention for the purpose of extradition while in prison today, according to the Mexican prosecutor.

Interpol agents served Guzman with the formal orders at the Altiplano prison where he was being held. His legal team will have time to submit paperwork to fight extradition.

He escaped from the Altiplano prison near Mexico City July 11, launching an active manhunt. When guards realized that he was missing from his cell, they found that a ventilated tunnel had been constructed and had an exit via the bathtub inside Guzman's cell. The tunnel extended for about a mile underground and featured an adapted motorcycle on rails that officials believe was used to transport the tools used to create the tunnel, Monte Alejandro Rubido, the head of the Mexican national security commission, said in July.

Guzman had been sent to Altiplano after he was arrested in February 2014. He spent more than 10 years on the run. after escaping from a different prison in 2001. It's unclear exactly how he had escaped, but he did receive help from prison guards who were prosecuted and convicted.

Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, was once described by the U.S. Treasury as "the most powerful drug trafficker in the world." The Sinaloa cartel allegedly uses elaborate tunnels for drug trafficking and has been estimated to be responsible for 25 percent of all illegal drugs that enter the U.S. through Mexico.

Guzman has also long been ranked among the richest men in the world by Forbes. Drug enforcement experts have conservatively estimated the cartel's revenues at more than $3 billion annually.

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