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Mexico Approves Extraditing El Chapo To The United States

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Aspiring film producer, escape artist, and murderous Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will be extradited to the United States for crimes he's alleged to have committed in the country.

The L.A. Times reports that the Mexican Foreign Ministry approved a request from the U.S. government to transfer him from Mexico to the United States for prosecution.

In California, El Chapo—the head of the notorious Sinaloa cartel—is charged with conspiracy to import and possess cocaine for the purpose of distribution, and in Texas, he's up against charges including conspiracy, organized crime, crimes against public health, money laundering, firearms violations, and murder.

According to CNN, Guzman, who is also facing charges in Arizona, Illinois, New York, Florida and New Hampshire, would first be sent to Texas for trial.

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CBS News notes that the extradition process can still be appealed, and you bet Chapo's lawyers will be doing just that. They told the Times that they have "vowed" to appeal all the way to the Mexican Supreme Court, which could take up to three years.

As Jose Refugio Rodriguez, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told the Times, "The defense [team] is tranquil, we are going to appeal the decision of the Mexican government." Rodriquez also said that Guzman knew about the extradition ruling and was "calm."

One of the conditions of the extradition was the promise of the U.S. government not to seek the death penalty in any of the cases against Guzman. Mexico has abolished capital punishment, and will not extradite its citizens if execution is on the table.

Former DEA agent Mike Vigil told CBS that "the battle could turn violent" because gangsters know that extradition removes them from the criminal system that they control, and that protects them.

"As long as they have access to their criminal infrastructure, they can intimidate or they can bribe," Vigil said, "and I'm sure that right now, Chapo Guzman is going to be scrambling, trying to intimidate government officials, because he will fight it to the bitter end." "That could lead to violence against the government, to intimidate violence against the judicial system, against individuals that will have something to do with his extradition, and if he can't get to them, he'll go after their families," Vigil said. "That's a very strong possibility that he will launch a frontal assault on the Mexican government, to try to intimidate the government to stop his extradition."

As The Economist wrote last year, extradition isn't a cut-and-dry victory when it comes to justice. They noted the extradition case of Pablo Escobar, who, along with his group of cronies called "The Extraditable Ones" terrorized the Colombian government in an effort to get the country to ban extradition. Their slogan? "We prefer a grave in Colombia to a prison in the United States."
Extradition can create dependency by reducing pressure to clean up local justice systems. Although Colombia has broken up gangs, increased drug seizures and cut its murder rate, its courts and jails remain inefficient and corruptible by global standards. Because it now extradites even mob foot-soldiers, no one knows if it could jail a proper capo safely. Just 9% of murders there lead to a conviction.

Either way, looks like the producers of the new Netflix original series about the life of Chapo have some script rewrites to attend to.

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