Latin America & Caribbean

El Chapo: Mexico to extradite drug lord to US 'by February'

Cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" is escorted by soldiers Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Guzman was head of the notorious Sinaloa drugs cartel

Mexico expects to extradite drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States by February, the country's top security official says.

But Guzman can appeal any decision to extradite him and his lawyers say they will "fight until the end".

He faces multiple charges in the US, including drug trafficking and murder.

The leader of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel is being held in a maximum security prison in Ciudad Juarez, near the US border.

He was arrested in January after six months on the run following his escape through a tunnel in his jail cell.

He had already escaped a maximum security facility once before, spending 13 years at large.

Renato Sales Heredia, Mexico's national security commissioner, said in a TV interview that the government hoped to extradite the cartel boss "in January or February".

But lawyer Jose Refugio Rodriguez said there were too many appeals pending for the extradition to happen so quickly.

"That's not enough time," Mr Rodriguez said, adding that the only way to send Guzman to the US by early next year would be "to take him out [of jail] by force".

Mexico agreed to transfer Guzman in May after the US guaranteed he would not face the death penalty.

A judge began reviewing the case last month, but it is unclear when a ruling will be announced.

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