Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, was extradited from Mexico to the United States to face a sweeping indictment that includes numerous drug trafficking charges bundled together from cases in New York, Miami and other U.S. cities.
Guzman, one of the world’s most notorious narco-traffickers, was brought from Ciudad Juarez to New York Thursday night and arraigned Friday in federal court in Brooklyn. The 59-year-old pleaded not guilty.
At a news conference, U.S. attorneys from New York and Miami described Guzman’s central role in trafficking tons of drugs, including cocaine and heroin, throughout the United States while amassing billions of dollars in illicit profits.
U.S. authorities sought Guzman’s extradition on multiple charges of drug trafficking, murder and money laundering in several states. The extradition request was approved by a Mexican judge in October, days after the federal judge assigned to the case was murdered while jogging outside his home.
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Guzman, who initially faced charges in six U.S. jurisdictions, will now be prosecuted in a joint New York-Miami indictment in Brooklyn. In exchange for his extradition, the United States agreed with Mexican officials not to seek the death penalty against Guzman, who was charged with various murders in the original New York indictment.
“Guzman Loera is accused of terrorizing communities all over the world,” said Wifredo Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “With this prosecution we stand united, with our domestic and foreign partners, in our fight against transnational criminal organizations that profit billions of dollars off of the toxic spread of illicit drugs in our global communities.”
As part of the Guzman investigation, nearly 200,000 kilograms of cocaine linked to the Sinaloa Cartel have been seized. The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits that authorities say flowed from the United States back to Mexico for more than a decade.
Guzman escaped prison in 2001 after bribing Mexican prison guards, and again in 2014 when he exited through a nearly 1-mile tunnel dug beneath his jail cell. He was captured a third time in 2016 after six months on the run.
In October, a letter from the drug kingpin’s psychiatrist alleged that Guzman was depressed and suffering from hallucinations, memory loss and was experiencing “physiological torture” at the hands of prison guards. His wife filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, alleging that he was allowed no contact with other prisoners and could only receive limited outside visitors.
The Mexican government collaborated extensively with U.S. authorities on Guzman’s extradition this week, paving the way for his transfer to New York Thursday night. Guzman had been indicted on various drug trafficking charges in New York, Miami, Chicago, San Diego, California, El Paso, Texas, and Concord, New Hampshire.
Last year, Justice Department authorities consolidated evidence against Guzman from all six cases into the joint New York-Miami indictment.
“This prosecution demonstrates that we will apply all available resources to dismantle the leadership of dangerous drug cartels, wherever they operate, and will not rest until we have done so,” said Robert Capers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.