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'El Chapo' extradition: Mexico's Supreme Court to rule over disagreement in lower courts

By Andrew V. Pestano
'El Chapo' extradition: Mexico's Supreme Court to rule over disagreement in lower courts
Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's injunction filed in January will be reviewed by a Mexican federal criminal court but two courts have disagreed over jurisdiction. The Mexican Supreme Court will decide which court will review the case. Photo courtesy of Mexico's Attorney General

MEXICO CITY, July 5 (UPI) -- Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation will decide which lower court will review a request by drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's defense team to block his extradition to the United States.

Guzman has filed numerous appeals and injunctions related to criminal charges and to the United States' request to extradite the drug kingpin. One of the first injunctions was filed in January soon after Guzman's arrest. It would block any extradition order for Mexican authorities to extradite Guzman to the United States.

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The courts disagree whether the January injunction is valid, as it was filed months before the U.S. extradition order was approved by Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Whether or not the injunction is valid would determine which court has jurisdiction.

Guzman's defense team argues the injunction is valid -- citing a newspaper article in which Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he ordered an accelerated extradition process against Guzman.

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Guzman's appeals against extradition could take one to three years to conclude as his defense team has vowed to take his case up to the Mexican Supreme Court.

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Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in nearly the entire United States. "El Chapo" -- meaning "The Short One" or "shorty" -- so dubbed because of his 5-foot-6-inch frame, was detained in Guatemala in 1993 and extradited to Mexico to face murder and drug-trafficking charges.

He escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing prison guards, and was re-captured in February 2014. He was captured in the city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa on Jan. 8 after escaping again, this time from Mexico's Altiplano Federal Prison on July 11.

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