New York, Jan 20: Mexican drug baron Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, one of the world's most notorious criminals, was extradited to the US to face charges on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration. Guzman heads the Sinaloa cartel, which is accused of generating much of the deadly violence in Mexico's decades-long drug war and providing tons of narcotics to the United States.
The drug kingpin landed at MacArthur Airport on Long Island, the US Justice Department said. US television broadcast footage of what appeared to be his convoy arriving outside a New York jail, the street outside bristling with heavily armed US Marshalls. His extradition caps a Hollywood-worthy cat-and-mouse game between Mexican authorities and the slippery 59-year-old drug lord, who escaped from prison twice.
His feats turned him into a legend of Mexico's underworld, with musicians singing his praises in folk ballads known as "narcocorridos" -- tributes to drug capos. US prosecutors said Brooklyn federal attorney Robert Capers will hold a news conference at 10:00 am (1500 GMT) -- less than two hours before Trump's inauguration -- to announce his extradition and arraignment. Guzman is charged in six separate indictments throughout the United States, one of which is in New York. The drug baron had fought desperately against extradition since being recaptured almost exactly a year ago in his home state of Sinaloa following his second daring jailbreak.
President Enrique Pena Nieto previously refused to extradite Guzman, but he changed tack after his latest escape in July 2015. He had been held most recently in prison in Ciudad Juarez, which borders Texas, after being abruptly transferred from a penitentiary near Mexico City last May.
The Mexican foreign ministry said he was handed over to US authorities after the Supreme Court and a court of appeals rejected his latest bids to avoid extradition. The appeals court ruled that the extradition conformed with a bilateral treaty and that Guzman's rights had not been violated, the statement said.
The US Justice Department extended "its gratitude to the government of Mexico for their extensive cooperation and assistance." But one of Guzman's lawyers, Silvia Delgado, told Milenio television that she was surprised by the extradition, calling it "illegal" because another legal petition was pending.
In May, the Mexican foreign ministry approved extradition bids from California, where he is wanted for drug distribution, and Texas, where he faces a slew of charges including murder and money laundering. Trump, who takes office on Friday, has publicly clashed with Mexico over trade and immigration issues. The Republican president-elect has pledged to build a wall on the US-Mexican border.