Mexican drug lord El Chapo’s extradition on hold pending appeal

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Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted by soldiers and marines to a helicopter Jan. 8, 2016, in Mexico City after his arrest.

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman faces drug trafficking and other charges from seven U.S. federal prosecutors, including in Chicago. | AP file photo

AP file photo

MEXICO CITY — A judge in Mexico granted a temporary stay of extradition for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Tuesday until arguments can be heard on two appeals filed by his lawyers.

Guzman’s lawyer, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, said one of the appeals argues that the statute of limitations has run out on some crimes Guzman is accused of in the United States. The defense also argues that some of the accusations against Guzman are based on hearsay, not direct evidence.

Rodriguez said the appeals were filed late Monday in courts in Mexico City.

A judge ruled that arguments should be heard on the appeals, a step that is almost automatic in extradition cases.

Rodriguez predicted it could take as long as three years to resolve the appeals.

In all, Guzman faces drug trafficking and other charges from seven U.S. federal prosecutors, including in Chicago, New York, Miami and San Diego.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department ruled in May that the extradition can go forward, in part because the United States has guaranteed that Guzman would not face the death penalty. Mexico has abolished capital punishment and does not extradite its citizens if they face possible execution.

Guzman faces an extradition request from a Texas federal court related to charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, money-laundering, arms possession and murder, and another extradition request from a federal court in California related to drug trafficking.

Guzman was arrested in January after almost six months on the run following his escape from a maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel that opened to the floor of his shower.

He had already escaped once before in 2001 and spent more than a decade as one of the world’s most wanted fugitives until he was recaptured in 2014.

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