WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department has begun talks with Mexican authorities about extraditing drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Guzman’s extradition to face charges in the United States was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting in Miami between Arely Gomez, Mexico’s attorney general, and Justice officials, said the spokesman, who requested anonymity.
He declined to identify the U.S. officials who met with Gomez.
The Miami meeting followed a phone call to Gomez last Friday by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to congratulate Mexico on its recapture of Guzman. He escaped in July from what was supposed to be one of Mexico’s most secure prisons.
The Miami meeting was the first face-to-face discussion between U.S. and Mexican officials on the matter, the spokesman said. Officials from both countries have said extraditing Guzman could take a year or longer.
U.S. officials have said the United States has filed more than one extradition request for Guzman.
News reports from Mexico said that after his recapture, Mexican authorities served Guzman with copies of two outstanding U.S. extradition requests.
A U.S. law enforcement source said at least two federal prosecutors’ offices had in the past sent extradition requests for Guzman to Mexican authorities – the U.S. Attorney’s offices in San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas.
The department spokesman declined to confirm how many extradition requests have been sent and by which prosecutors.
The law enforcement source said that although prosecutors in San Diego and El Paso had formally staked claims to try Guzman if he is extradited, it is possible, if not likely, that other U.S. Attorney’s offices with cases against Guzman will also bid to try him first after extradition.
Among other federal prosecutors with open cases on Guzman are those in Chicago, Miami and both Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York. Lynch previously served as U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.
U.S. officials said if there is a competition among U.S. Attorneys to try Guzman, Justice Department headquarters, and ultimately Lynch herself, may decide who tries him first.
‘El Chapo’s’ lawyer accuses Sean Penn of making false trafficking claim
According to one of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s lawyers, Sean Penn falsely reported that the Mexican drug lord told him he was the world’s most prominent drug trafficker.
“It’s a lie, absurd speculation from Mr. Penn,” Juan Pablo Badillo, a member of Guzman’s legal team, revealed to Reuters in a Wednesday interview. After years of working with the kingpin, Badillo — who considers Guzman a “very intelligent” man — doesn’t believe that he would voice such a self-incriminating statement to Penn.
Badillo continued, “In a way, yes, it does complicate it (his defense). Mr. Penn should be called to testify to respond about the stupidities he has said.”
Guzman was recaptured Friday, nearly six months after plotting a successful escape from Mexico’s most secure prison. During his spree as a fugitive, Guzman reached out to various producers and actors in hopes of developing a film about his life. One of those actors was Penn. After agreeing to a discreet interview with the infamous drug lord in October, the Oscar winner published an article in Rolling Stone, publicly documenting the experience. The Jan. 9 publication of Penn’s interview ultimately enabled authorities to relocate Guzman, police said.
In the Rolling Stone piece, Penn quotes Guzman as stating, “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats” — the statement that Badillo is now claiming to be falsified.
Though there was initial speculation that Penn could be incriminated for conducting an interview with a wanted fugitive without notifying authorities, Mexican police are not directly investigating Penn, but rather the details of how the actor — along with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo — were able to organize the meeting.
‘El Chapo’s’ shirt sold out at stores
The shirt worn by wanted Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a photograph with American actor Sean Penn is a big seller for a California clothing firm.
He was pictured wearing the Barabas shirt in a photo with Penn that accompanied the actor’s recent Rolling Stone magazine article about the fugitive.
The company posted on its Facebook page that “El Chapo” was wearing its shirt. It was reportedly sold out because of the spike in demand following the Rolling stone story.