Mexico’s powerful drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has sought to prevent any extradition bid by the US, where he faces charges for smuggling massive amounts of cocaine.
Federal prosecutors in New York have announced plans to request Guzman’s extradition for smuggling tonnes of narcotics, and several other US cities have indicted him on a slew of charges.
The 56-year-old Sinaloa cartel boss is already facing drug trafficking and organised crime charges, with a Mexican judge required to decide by Tuesday whether to put him on trial.
After 13 years on the run, the 56-year-old drug lord was captured by Mexican marines in a Pacific beach town on Saturday following a US-backed manhunt that involved a drone and mobile phone taps.
His lawyers filed documents on Sunday and Monday seeking an injunction to prevent any extradition.
A Mexican judge must decide whether to approve the injunction.
Mexican officials have yet to say whether they would accept a US extradition request.
Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, said the injunction, known as an ‘amparo’, is a tactic for ‘Guzman to stay in Mexico and delay the case’.
An extradition can take a long time to take place because a suspect must first be convicted in Mexico, he said.
After a court convicts a suspect, Mexican authorities must then decide whether to extradite the convict immediately or make him serve his sentence in Mexico.
In Guzman’s case, he would also have to finish the remaining 12 years of a 20-year sentence he avoided by escaping in 2001.
The US had offered a $US5 million ($A5.5 million) reward for information leading to his capture.
Mexican authorities have jailed Guzman in a maximum-security prison about 90km west of Mexico City where many of the country’s most notorious criminals are held.
Nabbing Guzman – considered the world’s biggest drug trafficker – was a major victory in President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to rein in drug violence in his country.
The Sinaloa cartel’s turf wars with rival gangs contributed to a wave of drug violence that left more than 77,000 people dead in the past seven years.
His arrest capped a months-long operation that resulted in the arrests of a dozen Sinaloa cartel operatives, including alleged bodyguards of Guzman’s top associate, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada.
After information was gleaned using mobile phone intercepts, a US-controlled surveillance drone was used for two weeks between mid-January and mid-February to back up a massive search in the northwestern city of Culiacan, said a US government official, on condition of anonymity.
Guzman eventually slipped out of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, after escaping through tunnels under one of his safe houses as the marines closed in on him, Mexican and US officials said.
Under pressure, he fled further south to the beach resort city of Mazatlan.
It was there the elite marine unit captured him on Saturday, in the fourth floor of a condominium, with a surprisingly small entourage that included one lookout, one bodyguard and a woman believed to be his beauty-queen wife.
Guzman went down without a single shot.