Monday, March 7, 2016
Guzman, Extradition, and his Dueling Attorneys
By Allan Wall
The Chapo Guzman case is not going away and it provides
constant new developments. Furthermore, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
As a service for any readers
who just returned from a few decades on a desert isle, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera, a billionaire drug lord of
Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, was captured in Guatemala in 1993, extradited to Mexico, and sentenced to prison for a twenty-year
term. In 2001, Chapo escaped from the State of Jalisco Puente Grande prison.
In February of 2014, Chapo
was captured anew in Mazatlan. (See Mexican Drug Lord 'Chapo' Guzman Captured in Mazatlan, Sinaloa and Mexican Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Guzman remains in the Limelight.)
Then, in July of 2015, Chapo escaped from Mexico’s Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1,
"Altiplano," the famous prison near Almoloya in the State of Mexico.
Chapo escaped through a mile-long tunnel, the construction
of which had been going on for quite some time and right under the noses of prison authorities. That of
course strongly indicates some heavy-duty collusion with some prison officials.
The escape was especially embarrassing to Mexican President
Enrique Peña Nieto, who was out of the country at the time. (See Our 2015 Summer Visit to Mexico and Could Mexico's Escaped Drug Baron Chapo Guzman be Back Home?)
On January 8th, 2016, Chapo was recaptured by the Mexican Navy in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
Soon after Chapo was in
custody, it emerged that, before his capture, Chapo had been visited by dual citizen Mexican/U.S. actress Kate del Castillo,
and American actor Sean Penn – who wrote a piece about the whole experience for Rolling Stone magazine.
See The Spectacle of Sean Penn and the Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Guzman: A Review.
Today, the Mexican government is willing to extradite Chapo to the United States, where he has charges
filed against him in seven U.S. federal courts. See Will Mexico's 'Chapo' Guzman Be Extradited to the USA?
From the Mexican government’s perspective, the advantage of extradition is it gets Chapo out
of the country and the Mexican legal system, so hopefully Chapo can’t either (1) run his operation from prison, or (2)
escape for the third time.
The extradition process is a complex one, however. Plus, Chapo now
has dueling attorneys, simultaneously fighting extradition and requesting extradition.
On February 4th, Chapo lawyer Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza
held a news conference right outside the Altiplano prison where Chapo is back in custody. Gonzalez Meza
was wearing a sweat shirt with a photo of Guzman and the slogan “Extradition Never!!!” written in English.
(Check out the photos here; this attorney is a real showman.)
Gonzalez Meza said he was planning a hunger strike in
support of Chapo Guzman, and he appealed to his fellow Mexicans to strike along with him. (Gonzalez Meza
is allowing himself water and juice.)
On the other hand, Guzman lawyer Jose Refugio Rodriguez has stated that el Chapo has it so bad at
Altiplano that he wants to be extradited and is even willing to plea bargain to do so. Of course, he has
his conditions, a “reasonable” sentence, and in a medium-security U.S. prison.
So what’s going on? Are Chapo’s
attorneys just working at cross-purposes or are they both part of a coordinated plan? Maybe the latter, as even
Jose Refugio Rodriguez, who says Chapo wants to be extradited, says the requests for injunctions preventing Chapo’s
extradition, filed by Chapo lawyers, won’t be dropped until they can make an extradition deal with U.S. prosecutors.
family is involved in all the publicity. His sister, Bernarda Guzman Loera, was outside the prison on the
day of the lawyer’s press conference, and she spoke with the media and expressed the family’s concern about her
wife, Emma Coronel, in an interview, went so far as to say that “I’m not certain that he [Chapo Guzman] traffics
drugs.” Well, there you go.
The Guardian had an exclusive interview
with Rosa Isela Guzman Ortiz, a daughter of Chapo who lives in California. She said that her dad had been
betrayed by Ismael “el Mayo” Zambada, the other head of the Sinaloa Cartel, and by the Mexican government.
(El Mayo is still at large and has actually never been jailed.)
Chapo’s daughter also claimed that Chapo indeed visited California
twice during his latest period of freedom. Given the state of the U.S.-Mexican border, that wouldn’t
Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years. His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info