Extraditing slippery drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States could take a year or more, Mexican authorities say.
The extradition bid marks a reversal from President Enrique Pena Nieto’s refusal to send Guzman across the border prior to his July escape from a maximum-security prison.
After Guzman was recaptured on Friday, authorities launched the extradition process on Sunday, based on two US petitions on a clutch of charges, including drug trafficking and homicide.
“I could say as an estimate that it could be at least a year,” Jose Manuel Merino, the international affairs official at the attorney general’s office, told Radio Formula.
But Mr Merino warned that the process could last as a long as four to six years depending how hard Guzman’s lawyers fight his extradition through injunctions.
Guzman’s lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo, has vowed to launch a “tough” legal battle that could reach the Supreme Court.
Guzman is now back at the Altiplano maximum-security prison, some 90 kilometres west of Mexico City.
The drug lord was previously arrested in February 2014 but it only took him 17 months to escape from the penitentiary after his henchmen dug a 1.5-kilometre tunnel to set him free.
A dozen prison officials have been arrested over the escape.
Officials defended the decision to put him back in the same prison, saying security was beefed up, including with the installation of metal rods under the floor.
Guzman escaped through a hole in his cell’s shower floor.
The escape humiliated Mr Pena Nieto, who had vowed to keep him behind bars and put him on trial in Mexico even though the drug lord had already fled from another prison in 2001.