El Chapo Escapes Justice in America: Mexico Chooses Not to Extradite Cartel Head

BY RYAN FORREST—Mexico’s largest drug kingpin might still face justice, but it probably won’t be in the United States. Recently, the Attorney General of Mexico announced that it has no intention of extraditing Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States to face a wide array of charges across the country, including drug trafficking, money laundering and murder.[1] Previous to his arrest, Guzman headed the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which exported and distributed drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and heroin throughout the United States. [2]

This is not the first time that Guzman has been arrested. In 1993, Guzman was arrested in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico.[5] He subsequently was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison, though he was able to bribe his guards to maintain an opulent lifestyle.[6] While he was in prison, he was indicted for money laundering in San Diego.[7] Shortly thereafter, he made his escape from a maximum security prison by paying a guard to smuggle him out in a laundry cart.[8] From that time until his recent capture in February of 2014, he was a fugitive from justice.

After his capture, Guzman submitted a Writ of Amparo, to prevent his extradition. This motion was subsequently denied by the Eighth District Court Judge of Penal Matters in Mexico City.[9] Mexican officials have said that the U.S. government has not yet formalized its request for arrest for extradition, but stated that they have no intention of sending Guzman to America when they themselves have eight standing causes of action.[10] Nevertheless, if Guzman is convicted and does not escape for a second time, and if he does not die in prison, he may still end up being tried in the United States, as Mexican authorities admitted that “extradition treaties say very clearly that once the sentence is carried out [in] a country, [the criminal] must be extradited to fulfill [his remaining charges].”[11]

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