As I reported in a recent column, recaptured Sinaloa drug lord Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzman has been moved to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, across the U.S.-Mexican border from El Paso, Texas. (See ‘El Chapo’ Guzman: A New Home as he faces Possible Extradition). And, the process for his extradition is underway.
Supposing that Chapo Guzman is extradited to the United States, it would be a rather quick trip to move him to the nearby U.S. border from his current prison domicile.
Not only that, but El Paso, right across the border from Ciudad Juarez, is home to a number of U.S. security facilities that would be able to receive and process Guzman.
The headquarters of the DEA Domestic Field Division 7 is in El Paso, as are the headquarters of the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector and the U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Group.
Furthermore, El Paso is home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Bliss. Also, located on Ft. Bliss is the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), jointly operated by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection(CBP). EPIC also includes liaison officers from various other agencies.
Then there’s Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso. From Biggs Airfield, el Chapo could conceivably be flown out to another destination. Plus, Biggs Airfield is the home of Joint Task Force North, a counter-drug and anti-terrorist joint-service Department of Defense operation.
In addition, El Paso is the location of the William Beaumont Army medical center, a military hospital where Guzman could be treated if necessary.
All in all, El Paso is a strategic location which could receive Chapo Guzman.
But will Chapo Guzman be extradited?
On the U.S. side, Guzman is wanted in seven jurisdictions:
- The Southern District of California
- The Northern District of Illinois
- The Western District of Texas, based in El Paso
- The Southern District of New York, in Manhattan
- The U.S. District of New Hampshire
- The Southern District of Florida, in Miami
- The Eastern District of New York
On the Mexican side, two separate extradition requests, one from California (#1 on the list above) and another from Texas (#3 on the list) have been approved by Mexican courts.
Note also that one of the two jurisdictions approved for extradition is the jurisdiction in Texas based in El Paso. And Guzman is now right across the border from El Paso. Hmmm.
On May 20th, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Ministry (the SRE) approved extradition.
However, Chapo’s legal team, at least publicly, is not in agreement on the matter.
As reported by the AP on May 28th:
“Jailed drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s fight to stave off extradition to the United States has led to a schism among some of the people he’s counting on most: his own lawyers. After two of Guzman’s attorneys filed an appeal against the extradition request, a third lawyer quickly disavowed it on Saturday.” Drug Lord ‘Chapo’ Guzman’s Lawyers Split on Extradition Case, E. Eduardo Castillo, Associated Press, May 28, 2016
This sort of appeal is part of the extradition process, but what is curious is the division among Guzman’s attorneys. Do they really disagree, or is it some sort of plan or ploy?
“Attorney Jose Refugio Rodriguez told the Associated Press that the move was not authorized by Guzman and his client will not sign off on the appeal, meaning the courts would not act on it. This hurts Joaquin Guzman because it hinders our defense, Rodriguez said.”
“Rodriguez added that the lawyers who filed it, Juan Pablo Badillo and Jose Luis Gonzalez Mesa, are not part of the team working on the extradition case. That team is still considering the government’s arguments and plans an appeal in the coming weeks that El Chapo will approve.”
This has actually been going on for a while. See my March 7th article entitled On ‘Chapo’ Guzman, Extradition, and his Dueling Attorneys, which mentions the dispute between Gonzalez Mesa (anti-extradition) and Rodriguez (pro-extradition).
“We have a strategy with Joaquin and we are planning it,” Rodriguez said. He suggested that Badillo and Gonzalez may have been motivated by “a desire for notoriety.”
Imagine that! Lawyers motivated by “a desire for notoriety!” Could it really be?
By Allan Wall for TYT