Guatemala extradites accused drug trafficker to U.S

GUATEMALA CITY Thu May 22, 2014 2:10pm EDT

Juan Ortiz Lopez, (C), known as ''Chamale'', is escorted for his extradition to the U.S. at the Air Force base in Guatemala City May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Juan Ortiz Lopez, (C), known as ''Chamale'', is escorted for his extradition to the U.S. at the Air Force base in Guatemala City May 22, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala on Thursday extradited one of the country's top suspected drug traffickers to the United States, more than two years after a court had ordered the move.

Juan Ortiz Lopez, alias "Chamale," who was arrested in March 2011, is wanted in a Florida federal court on charges of trafficking tons of cocaine into the United States.

The 43-year-old faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

Rudy Esquivel, a spokesman for Guatemala's prison system, said a police helicopter took Ortiz to a military air base before a plane bound for Tampa, Florida departed with him at around 9 a.m. local time.

A court had ordered his extradition in February 2012.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu, editing by G Crosse)

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