MEXICO CITY, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Mexico's National Security Commissioner Renato Sales on Friday said authorities are aiming to extradite drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States in early 2017.
When asked about the process of extradition on the television show Despierta on Televisa Mexican, Sales said Mexican authorities hope it will take place "in January or February next year." He added that Guzman does not operate his drug empire from behind bars.
Sales also said Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel is being investigated for an ambush that occurred in late September in Mexico's Culiacán state, in which five soldiers died. Guzman's sons are accused of carrying out the attack.
One of Guzman's lawyers, José Refugio Rodríguez Nuñez, also spoke to Televisa on Friday. He said Guzman's extradition to the United States would not happen anytime soon.
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 then 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 a second time in the city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa on Jan. 8 after escaping from Mexico's Altiplano Federal Prison on July 11, 2015.
Rodríguez Nuñez has repeatedly asserted Guzman has been treated poorly by prison authorities -- likening Guzman's imprisonment to a human rights violation.