Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán could fight off extradition requests from the United States for years, a high government official said on Monday.
"If he [Guzmán] puts up resistance it could take four to six years," José Manuel Merino, head of international processes in the Mexican attorney general's office, told Radio Fórmula. "The least it will take is a year."
The extradition process was formally started on Sunday when the authorities notified Guzmán of two requests for him to face trial in US courts in California and Texas.
This came two days after his dramatic recapture, nearly six months after his spectacular tunnel escape on July 11 from the same maximum-security jail where he is currently being held.
One of the requests dates from shortly before the escape and the other from a few weeks after. They detail multiple alleged crimes including conspiracy to distribute cocaine, organized crime, money laundering, murder, and the possession of firearms.
Merino said that the two procedures are now in the hands of Mexican courts. If and when the extradition requests receive judicial approval the cases would go to the foreign ministry for a final decision.
One of Chapo's lawyers has already indicated that his client intends to fight extradition all the way.
"He must be tried for this case by Mexican judges in Mexican courts," Juan Pablo Badillo Soto told reporters outside the jail on Saturday. "Civilized countries — and by that I mean Japan, Israel, France, and England — do not extradite their nationals. Why does Mexico have to sell its citizens as if they were a barrel devalued oil."
Badillo said neither he nor and the drug lord's family had yet been allowed in to see Guzmán who he claimed was being held incommunicado.
The lawyer said he has already filed six injunctions seeking to prevent Guzmán's possible extradition prior to his recapture.
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