U.S. Seeks Extradition Of Mexican Drug Kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman

By McCarton Ackerman 02/25/14

Federal prosecutors want their shot at trying the former head of the Sinaloa cartel, even though his arrest is largely seen as symbolic and won't halt the flow of drugs into the United States.

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Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán Photo via

After last Saturday’s arrest of infamous drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, federal prosecutors announced yesterday that they will seek his extradition to the United States.

Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, faces charges in eight districts throughout the U.S., including New York and Chicago; the Chicago Crime Commission named him their "Public Enemy No. 1" last February due to his responsibility for the bulk of narcotics flooding the city. But Mexican officials want to keep Guzman in custody over concerns about his transfer to the U.S. due to his 2001 escape from a Mexican prison inside a laundry truck.

Guzman’s capture was the end result of a year long investigation between U.S. and Mexican officials. The U.S. placed a $5 million bounty on his head after the Sinaloa Cartel smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the U.S. including methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. In recent years, he had even become a major narcotics trafficker throughout Europe and Asia.

But while Guzman’s capture is being viewed as “symbolically important,” officials in both the U.S. and Mexico envision that the drug war is far from over. The Sinaloa Cartel will likely appoint someone else to replace him and there is a chance that drug war violence will increase as cartels vie for power in Guzman’s absence. The drug war has already claimed at least 60,000 lives throughout Mexico, most of which occurred when former president Felipe Calderon was in power.

Guzman was able to bribe his way out of a Mexican prison 13 years ago, but authorities have made it clear there is no chance of that happening again. "He's locked up in the most reliable prison we have in Mexico and certainly once bitten twice shy,” said Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. "We will take our precautions in this case."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.