Joaquin Guzman Loera, the Mexican drug lord also known as "El Chapo" who was recaptured last year after escaping from prison, made his first appearance in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, this afternoon.
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Guzman, a leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel based in Mexico, was extradited from Mexico to the United States late Thursday.
Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates in a statement this morning called Guzman "the alleged leader of a multibillion dollar, multinational criminal enterprise that funneled drugs onto our streets and violence and misery into our communities."
Guzman, who appeared in court on a 17-count indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and waived his right for all of them to be read aloud in court.
The drug kingpin, who does not speak English, had a translator and two federal public defenders with him.
He responded, "Si, senor," to questions from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein, such as on whether he understood the charges against him. He was without visible shackles or cuffs on his hands or feet, wore navy blue scrubs and sneakers and appeared clean-shaven.
Guzman's next hearing was set for Feb. 3 before U.S. Judge Brian Cogan.
The indictment, whose allegations cover the period from January 1989 to December 2014, accuses Guzman of running a "criminal enterprise responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and for conspiring to murder people who posed a threat to the narcotics enterprise," according to a Department of Justice statement.
The indictment claims that since the late 1980s, Guzman was one of the leaders of the Mexican Federation, an organized crime syndicate, and that during the late 1980s and 1990s members of the federation were hired by Colombian sources of supply to transport drugs through Mexico into the U.S. Guzman is accused of forming a partnership in the early 2000s that led to the federation's transforming into the Sinaloa Cartel, which the indictment says became the largest drug-trafficking organization in the world, with thousands of members.
Also among the allegations are that Guzman used firearms in relation to his drug trafficking and that his enterprise engaged in money laundering connected to the bulk smuggling out of the U.S. to Mexico more than $14 billion in cash proceeds from narcotics sales throughout the U.S. and Canada.
As part of the investigation, nearly 200,000 kilograms of cocaine linked to the Sinaloa Cartel have been seized, and the indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
The Justice Department in its statement alleged Guzman employed "hit men" to carry out violence, including murder, to collect drug debts.
Yates' statement this morning said the U.S. was grateful to Mexico's government for helping secure Guzman's extradition. "The Mexican people have suffered greatly" at his hands, she said. "Mexican law enforcement officials have died in the pursuit of him. We will honor their sacrifice and will honor Mexico’s commitment to combat narco-trafficking by pursuing justice in this case.”
Yates was joined in today's announcement by officials from U.S. Attorney offices in New York and Florida, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the New York Police Department.
Robert Capers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, called Guzman's extradition a "milestone," saying that federal prosecutors from around the U.S. spent well over a decade investigating the suspect's alleged criminal activities.
Guzman led a "life of crime, violence, death and destruction" and continued to grow his empire during the times he has been in prison, Capers said at a press conference this morning.
Capers likened Guzman's decades of alleged criminal activity to a small cancerous tumor that metastasizes, adding that the alleged drug lord helped to perpetrate an epidemic of illegal drug use in the U.S. in which cities like New York and Miami were "ground zero."
After Guzman was extradited to the U.S. on charges filed in Texas and California, the Mexican government approved the U.S.'s request to proceed with prosecution on charges filed in the Eastern District of New York. The charges in the indictment will be prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Brooklyn and Miami and the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
All together, Guzman will face charges in six indictments from around the U.S., the Justice Department said. Officials said today that New York and Florida prosecutors brought the most "forceful punch" to prosecute Guzman and that several narcotics seizures occurred in the Brooklyn district.
Guzman was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and was extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking. Eight years later, in 2001, after bribing Mexican prison guards, he escaped from a federal maximum-security prison. He was recaptured in Mexico in February 2014 and escaped again in July 2015. When guards realized he was missing from his cell, they found a ventilated tunnel, which Guzman was able to access through an exit near the bathtub in his cell. Guzman was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and was extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking. Eight years later, in 2001, after bribing Mexican prison guards, he escaped from a federal maximum-security prison.
He was recaptured in Mexico in February 2014 and escaped again in July 2015. When guards realized he was missing from his cell, they found a ventilated tunnel, which Guzman was able to access through an exit near the bathtub in his cell. The tunnel extended for about a mile underground and featured an adapted motorcycle on rails. Officials believe the motorcycle was used to transport the tools used to construct the tunnel.
Guzman was caught again in Jan. 2016.
ABC News' Erin Keohane contributed to this report.