Mexican drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was moved on Saturday from a jail in central Mexico to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, a northern city on the U.S. border, in a move that appears to bring him closer to extradition to the United States.
Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, was one of the world’s most wanted drug kingpins until his capture in January, six months after he broke out of a high-security penitentiary in central Mexico through a mile-long tunnel.
Chapo, or “Shorty,” faces charges ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder in cities that include Chicago, Miami and both Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York.
His lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo, said Guzman was moved early on Saturday, but he was not sure why.
“It’s an absurd action, illogical,” said Badillo. “The authorities shouldn’t do this. It was totally unexpected.”
Guzman’s lawyers will meet to plot a course of action, Badillo added.
“At this moment, he can’t be extradited,” said Badillo, noting that the legal process is not yet finished.
Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesman for Mexico’s presidency, said Guzman’s transfer to the state of Chihuahua was due to upgrades at his previous location, the Altiplano jail in central Mexico, and not part of an effort to deport him to the United States.
Read More: Reuters
Convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who twice pulled off brazen jailbreaks and is fighting to avoid extradition to the United States, was abruptly transferred to a prison in northern Mexico near the Texas border early Saturday.
Lawyers for Guzman, who was recaptured in January, have filed multiple appeals against their client being sent to the U.S., and Mexican officials have said it could take as long as a year to reach a final ruling. There was no immediate indication that the transfer could be a sign that the process is nearing conclusion.
Mexican government officials said the Sinaloa cartel boss was moved from the maximum-security Altiplano lockup near Mexico City to the Cefereso No. 9 prison in Ciudad Juarez, which is across from El Paso, Texas. The Interior Department said the move was due to work being done to reinforce security at Altiplano.
Michael Vigil, the former head of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said Guzman was moved because of security concerns. Vigil, who said he had been briefed by Mexican officials, did not specify those concerns or say whether Mexican officials had information about possible new escape plots. He also did not specify the officials with whom he spoke.
Jose Refugio Rodriguez, an attorney for Guzman, said defense lawyers had not been notified beforehand and one of them was traveling to Juarez to try to meet with their client.
“I don’t know what the strategy is,” Refugio told The Associated Press. “I can’t say what the government is thinking.”
He confirmed that Guzman’s lawyers are still trying to block extradition.
Read More: AP
Featured Image – In this Jan. 8, 2016 file photo, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted by army soldiers to a waiting helicopter, at a federal hangar in Mexico City, after he was recaptured from breaking out of a maximum security prison in Mexico. The History channel says it’s developing a drama series focusing on Guzman’s story. Last year, Guzman had broken out of prison and was on the run when he had a secret meeting with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and Sean Penn. The actor wrote about it for Rolling Stone. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)