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U.S., Mexico open talks on extradition of drug kingpin Guzman
January 14, 2016 / 9:55 PM / 2 years ago

U.S., Mexico open talks on extradition of drug kingpin Guzman

Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico January 8, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has begun talks with Mexican authorities about extraditing drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Guzman’s extradition to face charges in the United States was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting in Miami between Arely Gomez, Mexico’s attorney general, and Justice officials, said the spokesman, who requested anonymity.

He declined to identify the U.S. officials who met with Gomez.

The Miami meeting followed a phone call to Gomez last Friday by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to congratulate Mexico on its recapture of Guzman. He escaped in July from what was supposed to be one of Mexico’s most secure prisons.

The Miami meeting was the first face-to-face discussion between U.S. and Mexican officials on the matter, the spokesman said. Officials from both countries have said extraditing Guzman could take a year or longer.

U.S. officials have said the United States has filed more than one extradition request for Guzman.

Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico in this January 8, 2016, file photo. REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files

News reports from Mexico said that after his recapture, Mexican authorities served Guzman with copies of two outstanding U.S. extradition requests.

A U.S. law enforcement source said at least two federal prosecutors’ offices had in the past sent extradition requests for Guzman to Mexican authorities - the U.S. Attorney’s offices in San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas.

A pinata in progress depicting the drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is seen in front of a television showing a news bulletin of him, at a workshop in Reynosa, in Tamaulipas state, Mexico, January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

The department spokesman declined to confirm how many extradition requests have been sent and by which prosecutors.

The law enforcement source said that although prosecutors in San Diego and El Paso had formally staked claims to try Guzman if he is extradited, it is possible, if not likely, that other U.S. Attorney’s offices with cases against Guzman will also bid to try him first after extradition.

Among other federal prosecutors with open cases on Guzman are those in Chicago, Miami and both Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York. Lynch previously served as U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

U.S. officials said if there is a competition among U.S. Attorneys to try Guzman, Justice Department headquarters, and ultimately Lynch herself, may decide who tries him first.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Dan Grebler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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