MEXICO CITY, May 20 (UPI) -- The Mexican government on Friday approved the extradition of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán to the United States, helping to clear the way for the accused drug lord to face numerous criminal cases.
Mexico's Foreign Ministry announced Friday that it had approved the United States' request for extradition and notified Guzman of that decision.
Once he is returned, Guzman will face in courts in Texas and California on charges including drug trafficking, homicide and money laundering. He also faces charges in Chicago, New York and Miami.
Investigators say Guzman's operations have been responsible for bringing much of the cocaine and heroin into the United States.
The United States has been trying for some time to secure Guzman's return. In recent months, various officials and Mexican judges have favored extradition. Friday, Mexican officials said two of its judges have ruled extradition can proceed.
One of the sticking points in the process was the Mexican government's concern that Guzman might be executed in the United States if he is convicted. Friday's announcement indicates they had received sufficient guarantees that U.S. prosecutors will not seek capital punishment.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico has already confirmed that the death penalty was off the table, The Washington Post reported.
Still, Guzman's return to the United States might still be several months away. The suspect's attorneys said Friday they plan to appeal the government's decision to extradite.
Guzman, who investigators believe runs a major drug trafficking empire, has escaped from Mexican prisons twice -- most recently last year. He was recaptured in January.