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Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' moved to jail near US border

Joaquin Guzman was unexpectedly moved from a prison near the Mexican capital to a facility on the other side of the border from the US city of El Paso. He is likely to be extradited to the United States within the year.

Mexico's National Security Commission appeared to contradict rumors that the drug kingpin's extradition to the United States was imminent, with a source telling the Agence France-Presse that "El Chapo" (Shorty) was being transferred as part of normal prisoner rotation.

The commission reported in a statement that the transfer was in line with protocols, and it has rotated more than 7,400 inmates nationwide as part of a security strategy implemented last September.

Altiplano jail

'El Chapo' was being held at a jail near Mexico City

Joaquin Guzman, who is considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, arrived at the airport in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez at dawn Saturday, heavily guarded by some 150 federal police officers. He was then transferred by helicopter to the prison facility.

Guzman, who is serving a 20-year sentence for murder and drug trafficking, has escaped from maximum-security prisons twice. The first time was in 2001, when he went on the run for thirteen years.

The second time he escaped, in July 2015, he staged a spectacular jailbreak through a 1.5-kilometer (1-mile) tunnel from his cell

before being recaptured six months later.
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Most-wanted man

The leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel is wanted on similar charges in four US cities (New York, Chicago, San Diego and Miami) and two states (New Hampshire and Texas).

In January, two days after he was recaptured,

the US asked Mexico to relaunch extradition proceedings,

despite strong opposition from Guzman's lawyers.

In March, a Mexican court threw out the latest of several appeals against the government's request for an extradition warrant. Guzman's defense team said they were still trying to block the move, despite

their client earlier claiming he wanted to be moved to the US.

Mexican authorities have said Guzman's final extradition ruling could take at least a year.

Michael Vigil, the former head of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said Guzman was moved because of security concerns.

mm/jm (AFP, AP)

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