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A defiant Guzmán during his capture in January. A defiant Guzmán during his recapture.

Ruling one more step towards extradition

But El Chapo's defense team can appeal the ruling and prolong things further

Another step forward has been achieved in the drawn-out process of extraditing drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán with a federal judge’s finding that there was no fault in the legal procedures that have been undertaken.

The judge also decided to reject and dismiss five amparo requests, or injunctions, filed by Guzmán’s lawyers.

Despite the judge’s ruling, the extradition of the Sinaloa Cartel leader to face drug-related charges in the United States is not yet a fait accompli. His team of lawyers had 10 days to contest it and demand a revision before an appeals court.

But it’s a clear sign of progress all the same, says National Security Commissioner Renato Sales.

“[The judge’s decision] confirms that of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE),” said Sales, in reference to the secretariat’s decision to approve the extradition of Guzmán last May.

On that occasion, the SRE said the United States had offered sufficient guarantees that Guzmán would not face the death penalty should he be convicted.

“Of course his defense can demand a revision of this decision, after which it is the appeals court that will have a final say in the matter,” said the commissioner. “It is that court that will determine if the decision issued this week by the federal judge adheres to the law.”

“These are but technical and juridical matters,” he remarked, adding that his office is ready to act accordingly when a final decision is reached.

“We expect to be ready to extradite him come January or February.”

The drug lord’s defense team had a different view.

“He can calculate and have a personal opinion. The way I see it, it will be rather difficult to have the issue done by January,” said José Refugio Rodríguez Nuñez, one of Guzmán’s lawyers.

He was certain that the upcoming appeal could well prolong the case beyond the first months of 2017.

“We have been instructed by Guzmán to fight until the end to avoid his extradition,” said Rodríguez.

Source: Reforma (sp), Zeta Tijuana (sp)
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