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Mexico Approves ‘El Chapo’ Extradition to US

The extradition of convicted drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán to the United States can go forward, Mexico's Foreign Relations Department ruled Friday.

The process can still be appealed, meaning it could be weeks or months before the Sinaloa cartel leader may be sent to the U.S., where he is wanted in multiple jurisdictions on charges related to drug trafficking and organized crime.

Guzmán's lawyers now have 30 days to appeal the decision, and they have said they will.

Image: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman sits in a vehicle after he was recaptured in the city of Los Mochis
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman sits in a vehicle after he was recaptured in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa state in northwest Mexico on Jan. 8, 2016. Plaza de Armas via AFP - Getty Images

The department said Friday in a statement that the United States has provided "adequate guarantees" that Guzmán would not face the death penalty. Mexico has abolished capital punishment and does not extradite its citizens if they face possible execution.

RELATED: Mexico Judge Approves El Chapo Extradition to U.S.

Friday's ruling covered an extradition request from a Texas federal court related to charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, money-laundering, arms possession and murder, and another extradition request from a federal court in California.

In all, Guzmán faces charges from seven U.S. federal prosecutors including in Chicago, New York, Miami and San Diego.

Jose Refugio Rodriguez, one of Guzman's lawyers, said Friday the legal team planned to appeal the decision all the way to Mexico's Supreme Court, and possibly to international tribunals. Rodriguez told the Milenio television station that any extradition would take "at least one to three years."

RELATED: New Prison for 'El Chapo' Seen as Less Secure

"He knows and is conscious that the real battle against extradition is going to be waged through the constitutional appeals process," Rodriguez said.

Guzman was arrested in January after almost six months on the run following his escape from a maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel that opened to the floor of his shower.

He had already escaped once before in 2001 and spent more than a decade as one of the world's most wanted fugitives until he was recaptured in 2014.

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