Mexico approved the extradition of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States Friday after receiving guarantees he would not face the death penalty, and the kinkgpin’s lawyers vowed to block the move.
Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told Reuters he would file “many” legal challenges in the coming days, which could delay the drug lord’s eventual extradition for weeks.
Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, was the world’s most wanted drug kingpin until his capture in January, six months after he broke out of a high-security penitentiary in central Mexico through a mile-long tunnel.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said he would face charges including drug trafficking, money laundering and murder in U.S. federal courts in California and Texas.
Asked whether he would file legal challenges on behalf of Guzman, Badillo said: “Of course. Five, 10, whatever is necessary.”
Guzman’s escape last year was a major embarrassment to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who entered office amid a bloody war between the government and drug cartels launched by his predecessor.
Pena Nieto dialed back cooperation with the United States after taking office in 2013, but soon after Guzman’s recapture in January he said he had taken steps to ensure the kingpin would be extradited as soon as possible.
Earlier this month, Guzman was moved from a jail in central Mexico to a prison in Ciudad Juarez on the U.S. border, seen as a step closer to extradition.
Mexican authorities say they tracked Guzman down after he sought to make a movie about his life and met with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn, who published an interview with the drug boss in Rolling Stone.