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Way cleared for extradition of Joaquín 'El Chapo" Guzmán

Many Washington residents have likely heard of Joaquín 'El Chapo" Guzmán, the alleged leader of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. After escaping from prison and later being recaptured, Guzmán has now reportedly been cleared for extradition to the United States to face multiple charges in federal courts in both Texas and California.

According to reports, the Mexican Foreign Ministry consented to the extradition after being assured that U.S. prosecutors would not seek the death penalty against Guzmán. The death penalty is illegal in Mexico, and Mexico would not agree to Guzmán's extradition without first receiving an assurance that he would not face it in the U.S.

Even though he has been cleared for extradition, it will likely be a long time before he is transferred to the United States. His lawyers have said they will fight his extradition as long as they possibly can. The process could take well over a year. When he is extradited, he is expected to first head to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to face multiple charges, including organized crime, murder, mayhem, drug trafficking and others. He will then face charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California for several offenses related to cocaine importation and sales.

Drug charges may bring extremely serious consequences if they include allegations of trafficking. A criminal defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases may mount a challenge to the search that led to the alleged discovery of the drugs. If it was done without probable cause or outside of the scope of a search warrant, then the drugs could be deemed inadmissible evidence, possibly leading the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.

Source: FOX News Latino, "Drug lord 'Chapo' Guzmán's extradition to U.S. cleared by Mexico," May 20, 2016

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