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Some view ‘El Chapo’s’ extradition timing as political as he’s set for first appearance in Brooklyn Federal Court

January 20, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Some view ‘El Chapo’s’ extradition timing as political as he’s set for first appearance in Brooklyn Federal Court

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Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is set to appear in Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday following his extradition. The drug lord arrived in New York on a plane from Mexico escorted by DEA agents late Thursday night.

The Mexican government abruptly extradited the powerful leader of the Sinaloa cartel on Thursday. Guzman ultimately boarded a plane in Ciudad Juarez and was flown to New York, where he will face charges in an indictment out of Brooklyn’s Eastern District Federal Court.

For the past year, the drug lord vigorously fought extradition to the United States.

Guzman’s appearance in a U.S. courtroom is considered a monumental victory for U.S. authorities, who have sought Guzman’s extradition since he was first indicted in Southern California in the early 1990s.

“El Chapo,” who is believed to be in his late 50’s, faces life behind bars in a federal maximum security prison for indictments in six different jurisdictions including Chicago, New York, San Diego, El Paso, Miami, and the District of Columbia.

However, he is widely expected to stand trial in Brooklyn’s Eastern District for an indictment, which charges him of leading an enormous drug trafficking network that imported tons of narcotics into the U.S. every year and sent billions of dollars in profits back to Mexico.

El Chapo’ arrives at a private airstrip in Juarez, where he boarded a plane for New York on Thursday

Additionally, the indictment accuses Guzman and other co-conspirators within the Sinaloa Federation, which is considered one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in the world, of employing hit men to carry out executions, acts of torture, and abductions.

Guzman’s transfer to the U.S. occurs almost a year to the day he was recaptured in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, after escaping a maximum security prison in Mexico.

The escapade was an embarrassing event for the Mexican government,more specifically, for embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto.

“El Chapo” arrives on the same day President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated and also amid a politically charged climate in both the United States and Mexico.

Many in Mexico see the extradition as a political maneuver by a very unpopular Mexican President Pena Nieto, for what many argue is his mishandling of Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Mexico.

During a press conference on Thursday, reporters questioned Deputy Attorney General Alberto Elias Beltran over the timing of Guzman’s extradition.

“The federal government cannot interfere in court decisions. It was resolved today, and we, under terms of the international treaty, had to make the handover immediately,” he said.

‘El Chapo’ is escorted across the tarmac before boarding a plane to the U.S.

However, some experts say Mexico’s timing was a carefully calculated plan to not deny awarding Donald Trump a political victory.

“It could be a coincidence, but I think that’s unlikely,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said, noting it came on the last full day of Barack Obama’s presidency and hours before Trump’s inauguration.

“They could not send him after Trump was inaugurated because the interpretation would have been that of a tribute. But maybe they wanted to do it close enough so that both administrations — the outgoing and the incoming — could really make some political hay out of this,” Hope said.

Former senior U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official, Mike Vigil, believes the move was a reward to Obama and a warning shot to Trump, who has used harsh rhetoric to describe migrants illegally crossing the border from Mexico as “criminals and “rapists.”

El Chapo arrived in New York late Thursday

Trump has also vowed to have Mexico pay to build a wall on the southern border.

“The Mexican government decided to move up the time frame because they didn’t want Trump to be in the presidency when they sent him over,” Vigil said. “They wanted Obama to take credit. They wanted to send a message to Trump that they won’t be bullied.”

U.S. media outlets have also reported the timing as a snub towards Trump.

Federal agents questions Guzman after his arrival in New York

However, others disagree and say the timing sends a clear message to the incoming Administration that Mexico is serious about anti-drug cooperation.

Noted Mexico-based journalist and author Ioan Grillo, said in a Twitter post: “Mexico extradites Chapo Guzmán to the United States,” he wrote. “READ – Trying to show the Trump government, it is cooperating on security.”

A federal law enforcement source in New York who last year revealed to JammedUp that El Chapo would be extradited to Brooklynsaid he believes the preconceived notions by “experts” and media outlets in the U.S., are also political in nature.

“The political climate is toxic, despite the assertions, the Mexican government would not want to start off on the wrong foot with the incoming Trump Administration,” the source said.

Back in  December,  JammedUp News, citing Proceso, was the only U.S.-based news outlet to report that Guzman would be extradited either prior to or just after Trump’s inauguration as a gesture of goodwill.

Several diplomatic officials involved in Guzman’s extradition procedure in Mexico told Proceso that the transfer of the cartel kingpin to the United States was an “important card in the deck for Peña Nieto.”

DEA officers are seen leading El Chapo through the airport after he was extradited to the U.S. on Thursday

“Donald Trump assumes office on January 20, 2017; Pena Nieto would want to offer a gesture of cordiality for the two leaders to begin a new era in relations, with President-elect Trump threatening to build a wall along the border and overrule the North American Free Trade Agreement,” one source said.

Another added, “The gesture would be the delivery of “Chapo” Guzman within a few weeks after the inauguration date,” also noting that “‘El Chapo’ would be Peña Nieto’s present to President Trump.”

Moreover, Guzman’s transfer came on the same day that senior Mexican officials announced high-level talks in Washington with top officials within the Trump Administration, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, senior adviser Stephen Bannon, and Mexico’s newly installed top diplomat, Luis Videgaray on January 24th and 25th.

Guzman was escorted by an army of federal agents to a New York City federal holding facility late Thursday night

In Mexico, the Senator of the leftist opposition party, the Democratic Revolution, used the extradition to blast Pena Nieto, saying the move was the only choice left after “El Chapo” pulled off two embarrassing escapes from maximum-security prisons in 2001 and more recently in 2015.

“We should not celebrate that the Mexican state was not capable of processing the greatest criminal that has ever existed in Mexico and was not capable of guaranteeing his incarceration,” Barbosa said in a released statement.

Pena Nieto maintains the lowest approval ratings for any Mexican leader in the polling era. His ratings have tanked even further after the government’s fuel deregulation plan implemented on Jan. 1st resulted in the price of gas to surge by as much 20 percent.

Guzman’s attorney Andres Granados also slammed the government and accused officials of trying to distract the public from the fuel crisis, which has stirred outrage and violent protests to erupt across the country.

“They handled it politically to obscure the situation of the gas price hike, it’s totally political,” Granados stated.

Many Mexicans correctly fear Guzman’s extradition to the United States could lead to a cartel power struggle and further bloodshed in the country ravaged by drug-related violence.

“All the different bands are going to start fighting among themselves, no? Drug traffickers, to see who ends up being No. 1,” Roberto Lascurain, an architect in Mexico City, told the Associated Press.

Most experts agree since “El Chapo’s” apprehension in January 2016, the Sinaloa cartel has been led by Guzman’s longtime partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and his close associate Damaso Lopez Nunez, aka “The Bachelor.”

Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Damaso “The Bachelor” Lopez Nunez have assumed the top leadership positions within the Sinaloa cartel

However, some security analysts say Guzman’s sons have also taken on increased leadership roles.

Security expert Raul Benitez, with the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said Guzman’s sons could attempt to challenge for control in what “could be a negotiation without violence or a war with machine guns.”

However, Vigil predicted Guzman’s extradition is unlikely to affect the operations of the Sinaloa cartel.

“The majority of the drug cartels maintain a vertical structure, but … (The Sinaloa Cartel) has a horizontal structure made up of cells that operate in a semi-autonomous manner,” Vigil said.

The former DEA official added, “Sinaloa have a strong bench and a respected leader in Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada.”


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