El Paso

'El Chapo' extradited to US; expert predicts fellow inmates could give him a hero's welcome

BORDERLAND EXPERT ON EL CHAPO IN US

EL PASO, Texas - Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most notorious cartel kingpin who twice made brazen prison escapes and spent years on the run as the country's most wanted man, was extradited to the U.S. Thursday to face drug trafficking and other charges.

A senior U.S. official said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration took custody of Guzman in Juarez. Guzman was then flown to New York. He had been held at a prison south of Juarez for several months.

New York is one of several U.S. cities, including El Paso, where he is wanted on drug trafficking and other charges. 

So, what happens to Guzman now that he is in New York?  For those answers we turned to retired Chief Victor Manjarrez Jr. He served for more than 20 years in the United States Border Patrol and now works as Project Director for UTEP's Center for Law & Human Behavior.

"When he gets here, he is going to be just like anyone else. This is the indictment, he will be read the charges. He is not guilty until he goes in front of a jury or a judge," said Manjarrez. "It will probably be no bond, because we have seen the flight risk from Mexico. So, he will be held in a federal correctional facility."

The convicted boss of the Sinaloa cartel, one of the world's largest drug trafficking organizations,  was recaptured a year ago after escaping from a second maximum-security prison through a tunnel dug to his cell.

Manjarrez believes some Americans inmates may treat him like a folk hero, just as many Mexican inmates did.

"If you look in Mexico, and even parts of the United States, they have written songs about him.  And I am certain there are movies, there are documentaries on that. But, if you look at the hometowns and other places, they love him," Manjarrez said.

Manjarrez said Mexico does not have the death penalty, and that possibility would have been taken off the table as part of the extradition agreement.

He fought extradition since being recaptured, but according to the release from the Mexican government -- a judge denied Guzman a stay intended to block his extradition to the United States just today.
   
"I think to a certain degree with the extradition of El Chapo, I think you will see some sentiment within the Mexican public as to 'Hey, our government didn't let him go. He didn't escape. And ultimately I think that is what the Mexican government is trying to do, build faith among the people they govern," Manjarrez said.

 


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