Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman’s road to extradition - top extradition lawyer claims 'it's political'
Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman’s road to extradition
Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, a Mexican Drug Lord is making the news again. The drug lord currently resides in the Mexican Prison Ciudad Juarez, situated a stone’s throw from the United States border at El Paso, his lawyers now argue “torture like” treatment is occurring within the prison.
The Mexican drug lord has been involved in a number of legal battles during his time but in recent years the primary case his top extradition lawyers have been handling is Guzman’s extradition to the United States. Guzman’s lawyers have been fighting to stop the extradition that will see Guzman sent to the United States where he will face charges of murder and drugs trafficking along with a number of other offences.
Although Guzman was arrested and incarcerated decades ago, keeping Guzman in prison seems to create a herculean problem. Guzman was arrested back in 1993 in Guatemala, he was extradited to Mexico, detained in the Puente Grande in Jalisco and charged with murder and drugs-trafficking. Guzman was sentenced to twenty years but in 2001 Guzman made his first successful escape. Tens of people were implicated in the escape from prison guards to the prison director, all having been bribed in order to aid the escape which consisted of Guzman being hidden within a laundry basket and wheeled straight through the main gates of the prison and to his waiting accomplices.
Guzman avoided recapture for over a decade, during this time he was wanted not only by the Mexican government but also the United States government and Interpol. Both governments offered hefty rewards but Guzman still evaded capture until early 2014. Guzman was found in Sinaloa, Mexico and taken to Altiplano prison. Guzman spent a year in the prison before making his second successful escape in July of 2015. This time through a tunnel below the prison which had been dug by his cartel. The tunnel began below his shower and ended a mile away at a building site. Unfortunately for Guzman his escape was shorter lived on this occasion and he was recaptured in Los Mochis in January of 2016 and transferred to the prison Ciudad Juarez.
Following the two escapes Mexican officials have highlighted the need for special security measures as the previous Maximum-security prisons were inadequate at preventing the escapes. A further consequence of the escapes is Mexican authorities are less inclined to keep Guzman in a Mexican prison, a fact which will be displeasing to the top extradition lawyers currently fighting for Guzman to stay in Mexico. In May of this year the Mexican department of foreign relations held that extradition could go ahead due to the United States’ guarantee that Guzman would not face the death penalty. Since Mexico’s removal of the death penalty from its forms of punishment, any government that still allows capital punishment, Mexico would not extradite citizens to.
Guzman continued to stay at the forefront of interest in May of 2016 when the United States removed a charge against Guzman, many top extradition lawyers have highlighted that the reason behind this was to make it easier to extradite Guzman to the United States. The charge; a number of homicides committed within Mexico between 2000 and 2008, the charge was dropped from the prosecutor’s charge list without an official declaration. Those murdered included Roberto Valasco Bravo the director of investigation for organised crime within Mexico. Top extradition lawyers have suggested that this would remove the dispute over the United States authority to try a crime which occurred on foreign soil. Guzman is now charged instead with the conspiracy to commit murder against persons who posed a threat to the Sinaloa cartel.
Top extradition barristers have suggested that this change in charge is an artificial substitution which serves to extradite Guzman with fewer arguments to the contrary in a speedy time frame and with only minute consequence. Although Guzman will not face charges for those specified murders he will still be facing countless charges relating to the importation and distribution of drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. These counts together already account to a number of life sentences which are served one after another as opposed to the United Kingdom where they are served simultaneously. Therefore, Guzman will undoubtedly die in a United States prison serving the crimes whether or not he is charged with the murders of those on Mexican soil. It is more a symbolic defeat that he is not seen to answer for all of the crimes he has been accused of committing.
Guzaman’s top extradition lawyers are still fighting to stop Guzman being sent to the United States and also now to prove that the drug lord has received treatment which could be considered a form of torture since his return to prison. Top extradition lawyer José Refugio Rodriguez has argued that a number of crimes Guzman has been charged with are based on hearsay, a principle not accepted as evidence in the United States Courts. Rodriguez has also argued that the statute of limitations has elapsed on a number of other offences. Guzman’s extradition requests are from numerous federal courts in the United States including Texas, New York and California. He’s charged with conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, Murder, money laundering and arms possession. Guzman was granted a temporary stay by a Mexican Judge whilst appeals were made
Guzman is again in the news because now his lawyers are arguing that he faced torture like treatment whilst in Ciudad Juarez. This is not the first time his lawyers have suggested such treatment. Previously Guzman’s lawyers have suggested that he has been stopped from mixing with others within the prison, stopped from sleeping and also not allowed a suitable amount of visits. They have also argued that Guzman had been in receipt of physical torture and treatment which amounted to psychological turmoil. They now claim that medication Guzman was given in prison for high blood pressure, caused by living in the prison environment, he is now hooked on. Whilst we are unaware of the truth of these statements what we can be sure of is the legal battle involving Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman are continuing and this won’t be the last time we read his name in the news.