Mexican Foreign Ministry OKs Extradition of El Chapo to U.S.

IMAGE: Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman
File photo: Dated on January 18, 2016 Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by authorities after his detention, in Mexico City, Mexico.Jose Mendez / EPA

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Mexico's Foreign Ministry on Friday approved the extradition of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States.

It was unclear when Guzman would be extradited to the U.S., and a U.S. Department of Justice official said the process to extradite the drug lord from Mexico is not over. Justice Department officials expect other legal actions before the drug lord is sent to the U.S.

Under Mexican law, Guzman can appeal the decision, possibly delaying the process for weeks or months.

Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzman's lawyers, told Reuters he would file "many" legal challenges in the coming days.

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

Mexico's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Guzman would face charges including drug trafficking, money laundering and murder in U.S. federal courts in California and Texas.

The ministry said it received assurances from the United States that Guzman would not face the death penalty if tried in the U.S.

Guzman was the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel and the world's most wanted drug trafficker until his capture in February 2014. But in July of 2015, Guzman disappeared again after escaping from a prison in Mexico through a tunnel.

Guzman was recaptured in January, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said around that time that his goal was to have Guzman extradited as soon as possible.

Several U.S. jurisdictions want to try Guzman on federal drug trafficking charges, including San Diego, Brooklyn, N.Y., El Paso, Miami and Chicago, which has named him the city's first "public enemy No. 1" since Al Capone.

Pete Williams contributed.