Mexico under US pressure to extradite ′El Chapo′ Guzman | News | DW | 09.01.2016
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Mexico under US pressure to extradite 'El Chapo' Guzman

The arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has led to calls for his extradition to the US, amid fears that he might escape again in Mexico. The drug kingpin was reportedly tracked down because he yearned to film a biopic.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was returned to the Altiplano maximum-security prison, the jail from which he escaped in July, amid calls on Saturday for him to face justice in the US.

The 58-year-old drug lord was captured by Mexican marines on Friday at the end of a raid in the town of Los Mochis, in Sinaloa state, which left five suspects dead.

As boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman - who has twice escaped jail in Mexico - is wanted by US authorities on a number of criminal charges. His powerful Sinaloa Cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the US.

Watch video 01:33

Mexico fugitive drug lord recaptured

"Given that 'El Chapo' has already escaped from Mexican prison twice, this third opportunity to bring him to justice cannot be squandered," said US senator and Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio in response to the capture.

Escape through the floor

The United States requested Guzman's extradition in June, with US authorities blaming him for thousands of deaths due to addiction and gang violence.

However, Mexican officials were left embarrassed a month later when Guzman made a brazen escape through the floor of his prison cell, passing through a mile-long tunnel that had been burrowed from outside.

The jailbreak highlighted concerns about Mexico's justice system, with some dozen prison and police officials being detained in its wake over suspicions of bribery. At least four people were charged.

Guzman also escaped from jail, in a laundry cart, in 2001.

Sending Guzman to the US would help alleviate worries that he could use his fortune to bribe prison officials and escape again.

'Absolute confidence in the prisons'

Sources were quoted on Saturday as saying that the Mexican attorney general's office aimed to have Guzman, whose nickname means Shorty, extradited as quickly as possible.

However, Juan Pablo Badillo, a lawyer representing Guzman, said that his client could not be extradited.

"In strict accordance with the constitution, he cannot nor should not be extradited to any foreign country," Badillo told the "Milenio" newspaper. "Why? Because he is Mexican, and Mexico has wise laws and a fair constitution, and there is absolute confidence in the prisons authority."

Guzman's team is believed to have already filed six injunctions against his extradition.

Vanity project led to capture

Part of the reason authorities were able to track Guzman down was his desire to film a biopic about himself, Attorney General Arely Gomez said at a ceremony where the prisoner was shown off to the media and frog-marched to a helicopter.

Mexiko Festnahme Drogenboss Joaquin Guzman Loera - El Chapo

Shorty was whisked aboard a helicopter and flown to Altiplano maximum-security prison

Gomez said an "important aspect that allowed us to locate him was that we discovered Guzman's intention to make a biographical film, for which he established contact with actresses and producers."

"The follow-up work allowed us to document meetings between attorneys of the now-detainee and these people," she said.

The final operation came at the end of six months of investigation by Mexican authorities, who had previously managed to locate Guzman in Durango state in October. Officers decided not to shoot at the time because he was with two women and a child, said Gomez.

Guzman was said to have moved to Los Mochis in December, with his house under surveillance for about a month before authorities could determine whether he was inside.

'Lord of the Tunnels'

The marines were met with gunfire as they closed in. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One marine was injured.

Guzman and his security chief escaped through storm drains to the street, repeating a tactic used in 2014, before commandeering getaway cars.

Authorities anticipated their move, with Guzman having earned himself the nickname "Lord of the Tunnels." Marines chased the pair through the drain and eventually apprehended them on a highway.

rc/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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