El Chapo extradition: Mexico judge rejects appeal

Mexico City, Oct 21 (IANS) A Mexican court has denied drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s appeals against extradition to the United States, the Mexican Prosecutor-General’s office said on Thursday.

A district court in Mexico City had rejected five stays of proceedings filed by Guzman’s defence team and refused to block the extradition of the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Xinhua news agency quoted the office as saying in a statement.

After the decision was made to extradite Guzman earlier this year, the five stays were filed in May and originally approved by a judge.

One of the judges overseeing the case, Vicente Antonio Bermudez Zacarias, was murdered near Mexico City on Tuesday.

However, the decision by this court does not mean Guzman’s extradition is certain as his defence team has announced it will appeal.

Following the announcement on Thursday, Guzman’s lawyer, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, said that “the final word, as we have always said…will be” with the Supreme Court.

The drug lord is currently being held in a federal prison in Ciudad Juarez, in the northern state of Chihuahua, while two district courts in California and Texas are demanding to try him for drug-related crimes.

Last week, the Mexican government said it hoped to extradite Guzman in early 2017.

Mexican army and naval operatives arrested the drug trafficker on January 8 in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, six months after he made a dramatic escape from the Altiplano maximum security prison in the central State of Mexico.