Mexico City—U.S. officials are asking the Mexican government for the “immediate extradition” of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán following the drug lord’s recapture today in Sinaloa, according to highly placed agents in the U.S. government.
“The U.S. government is pushing via political means, and very discreetly, for the extradition of Guzmán. All official protocols are being followed to assure everything is done right,” Gilbert Gonzalez, an ex-DEA agent and director of the Narcotics Officers Association, told Fusion.
The extradition request was confirmed today by a U.S. Homeland Security official who asked not to be identified. “We are in talks with the Mexican government regarding Guzmán’s extradition. It would be the most convenient for both governments and the Mexican people,” the official told Fusion in a phone interview.
The Mexican drug lord was recaptured six months after he escaped from maximum-security jail through a mile-long tunnel.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto first announced the capture via Twitter, saying: “Mission accomplished: We have him. I want to inform Mexicans that Joaquín Guzmán Loera has been detained.”
Ex-DEA agent Gonzalez says he’s surprised El Chapo was taken alive.
“To be honest I was surprised to learn he was arrested alive,” he said. “I thought he was going to turn up dead. The Mexican government wanted him dead, because they are not happy with all the information he has. But for us it is good news.”
Despite U.S. pressures for extradition, Gonzalez doesn’t expect Mexican officials will put El Chapo on the first flight out of the country.
“Mexican President Peña Nieto wants to demonstrate to his people he can retain El Chapo in his country. He also needs some time to celebrate the apprehension and at the same time send a strong political message,” the former drug warrior said.
The Homeland Security official also thinks the “Mexican government will take its time” before extraditing their top criminal. He says President Peña Nieto is unlikely to extradite El Chapo until he “feels confident enough to send him away.” In the meantime, the U.S. agent said, El Chapo will be kept under tight wraps.
“Another escape would be unthinkable,” he said.
The United States first filed a request for the extradition of Guzmán on June 15, two weeks before he escaped from Mexico’s highest-security prison in July. But Mexico refused; the Attorney General told the press that Guzmán would not be sent to the U.S. until he had served time for all his crimes in Mexico – in “about 300 or 400 years.”
Guzmán is wanted by U.S. authorities for several charges including money laundering and cocaine smuggling.
Now that he’s captured again, the U.S. has a second chance at extradition. Publically, the DEA is congratulating the Mexican government for “the bravery involved in his capture.”
“DEA is extremely pleased at the capture of Chapo Guzman. We congratulate the MX Government and salute the bravery involved in his capture,” the DEA said in a statement.