'El Chapo' extradited to US; to face trial in NY

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Friday, January 20, 2017
'El Chapo' extradited to US; to face trial in NY
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's most notorious drug kingpins, is finally headed for a court date the United States sought for two decades while he made brazen prison escapes and spent years on the run in Mexico.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was extradited to the United States on Thursday, U.S. and Mexico officials said.

The plane carrying the cartel leader arrived in Islip, New York, around 9:30 p.m. and was met by dozens of law enforcement personnel. He is expected to be held in Manhattan overnight and make a court appearance Friday in Brooklyn.

The convicted crime boss had been held most recently in a prison near the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.

He was recaptured a year ago after making a second brazen jailbreak and had fought extradition since then.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Guzman has been charged in six separate indictments throughout the United States in connection with his leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzman is expected to be prosecuted in in the Eastern District of New York. One indictment in that district accuses Guzman of overseeing a trafficking cartel with thousands of members and billions of dollars in profits laundered back to Mexico.

Photos show drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman been extradited to the United States.

It also claims that Guzman and other members of the cartel employed hit men who carried out murders, kidnappings and acts of torture. Guzman faces the possibility of life in a U.S. prison.

"The Justice Department extends its gratitude to the Government of Mexico for their extensive cooperation and assistance in securing the extradition of Guzman Loera to the United States," the DOJ said.

While on the run in the fall of 2015, Guzman held a secret meeting with actors Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo. The encounter was the subject of a lengthy article Penn published in Rolling Stone last January, right after Mexican marines re-arrested Guzman in the western state of Sinaloa.

In the interview, Guzman was unapologetic about his criminal activities, saying he had turned to drug trafficking at age 15 simply to survive.

"The only way to have money to buy food, to survive, is to grow poppy, marijuana, and at that age, I began to grow it, to cultivate it and to sell it. That is what I can tell you," he was quoted as saying in Penn's article.

The Mexican government only allowed the extradition after the U.S. agreed not to impose the death penalty in Guzman's case. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged.

The Associated Press contributed to this report