Mexico wants to extradite its most notorious drug lord to the United States "as soon as possible," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Friday. Sinaloa drug cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was arrested earlier this month after spending six months on the lam.
The attorney general's office in Mexico is pushing "to speed up its work so that, as soon as possible, we can extradite this criminal," Peña Nieto said during an on-stage interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He said a federal investigation into Guzman's July escape from the maximum-security Altiplano prison remained ongoing.
"We still have to make those conclusions," he said. "The important thing is we reapprehended him."
Guzman's escape was a humiliating blow for Peña Nieto, whose popularity has diminished in recent years amid accusations of corruption and a sputtering economy. The president took office in 2012 vowing to accelerate economic growth and to quell the nation's drug-related violence, which has so far killed around 100,000 people since the drug wars began in 2006. He hailed Guzman's recapture in 2014 as a success for Mexico's law enforcement agencies.
The drug leader had been on the loose since 2001 after his first escape from another maximum-security prison where he bribed his way to freedom and reportedly fled in a laundry cart.
Peña Nieto's approval rating hit a low in July after Guzman's second escape. His approval among the general public fell to 34 percent in July from 39 percent in March, a poll by the Mexican newspaper Reforma indicated. His disapproval rating was 64 percent.
Mexican officials had previously resisted U.S. efforts to extradite Guzman, who faces an array of drug-related charges in New York City, Chicago, Miami and other cities where his sprawling Sinaloa drug network has moved billions of dollars' worth of cocaine. But this time around, Mexico indicated it wouldn't risk a third Guzman escape.
The attorney general's office formally began extradition proceedings just days after the drug lord's Jan. 8 arrest. "We are working for extradition," Peña Nieto confirmed Friday during the Davos discussion.