A Week After Arrest, Extradition of Drug Lord “Chapo” Guzman Seems Unclear
Joaquin Guzmán Loera, better known as “El Chapo,” was the first man to be deemed Chicago’s “Public Enemy Number One” since Al Capone. He was captured last week in the coastal resort town of Mazatlan, ending a 13 year period of being on the run from Mexican, American, and international authorities.
There have been calls for extradition from a number of different cities within the United States. He has been indicted in San Diego, Texas, Chicago and Brooklyn, among other locations. However, it is unclear whether or not the drug kingpin will be extradited to the United States or tried in Mexico.
There are arguments to support either Mexico bringing Guzman to justice or his extradition of to the United States: the United States prison system is much more reliable in terms of preventing escape and disabling El Chapo from continuing to operate his criminal organization from within prison. However, other sources believe that a trial in Mexico is a necessary step towards proving the power of the Mexican government over drug cartels. Andrés Martinez from “Slate” argues:
The Mexican government has proven that it is far from powerless in the face of these world-class mafias, that it can hunt down and overpower their chiefs. The greater challenge for Peña Nieto now is proving to the Mexican people, and to his northern neighbor, that Mexico’s judicial system is capable of trying and incarcerating for good (in such a manner that he can no longer pull strings behind the scenes) someone as powerful as Guzmán. It is on these fronts where Mexico has yet to demonstrate that it is a democracy with a resilient and entrenched rule of law.
Another argument against extradition claims suggests that prosecution in Mexico is in the interest of the United States. The U.S. and Mexico are deeply interconnected, whether the issue is trade, immigration, or law, and the United States stands to benefit for a more legitimized Mexican judicial system.
As of now, the extradition of Chapo seems unclear. Although at least seven federal courts have indictments against El Chapo, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States has said that he will face charges in Mexico first.
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