January 28, 2015 / 5:37 AM / 5 years ago

Mexico not planning to extradite drug kingpin Guzman: official

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman is seen during his detention in Mexico City, in this undated handout photo provided by Mexico's Attorney General's office (PGR) on February 25, 2014. REUTERS/PGR/Handout via Reuters

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico is not planning to extradite to the United States captured drug lord Joaquin Guzman because he will first have to serve out jail time at home, an official at the federal attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.

Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo said last week a U.S. request was imminent for the extradition of Guzman, who is best known in Mexico as El Chapo, or Shorty, because of his height.

But given the number of charges pending against him, Guzman was likely to spend years in Mexican prison before he could face trial in the United States, an official at the attorney general’s office said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“At the moment, the extradition of El Chapo is not being contemplated,” the official said, adding that only once Guzman had served his sentences in Mexico could extradition be considered.

Guzman was the most wanted capo in the country until he was captured by security forces last February in northwestern Mexico, where he headed the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug smuggling outfits in the world.

Bloody clashes between drug gangs and security forces have claimed about 100,000 lives in Mexico over the past eight years.

Captured for the first time in 1993, Guzman escaped his Mexican prison in 2001 and later made it into the Forbes list of billionaires thanks to his drug trafficking exploits.

Guzman is wanted in the United States on a host of criminal charges including cocaine smuggling, money laundering and running a criminal enterprise, which included murder.

Reporting by Dave Graham and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Michael Perry

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