Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and his lawyers are challenging his extradition to Brooklyn, arguing that it was illegal on procedural grounds. They have filed paperwork to that effect and are asking a judge throw out his case.
On the day Guzman was apprehended last January in Mexico, the Mexican government had agreed only to send Guzman to Texas or California, but at the last minute, he was unexpectedly flown to New York, where he is slated to stand trial in April at the Brooklyn Federal Court.
In addition to questioning why government officials did not follow proper procedure by sending Guzman to New York to stand trial, the motivating factor behind El Chapo’s recent legal maneuver is this: asset forfeiture.
The complaint filed by Guzman’s attorneys challenges U.S. federal prosecutors’ attempts to seize El Chapo’s $14 billion in drug-related assets.
Because asset forfeiture claims were not part of the original extradition papers, his lawyers are using the so-called Rule of Specialty waiver, which is an extradition policy that “requires defendants to be tried only on the specific charges for which they are extradited.”
Guzman’s legal team, reported the New York Times, is questioning if federal prosecutors should be allowed to move forward with efforts to seize his $14 billion in assets, which has kept El Chapo on Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People List since 2009.
His lawyers believe the Rule of Specialty waivers were breached when the Mexican government allowed El Chapo to be transported to stand trial in Brooklyn on the same day he was apprehended, thus circumventing the normally time-consuming extradition process.
Based on all of this, Guzman’s defense team is asking Brooklyn Federal Court Justice Brian Cogan to throw out the indictment on the grounds that it violates the extradition treaty between U.S. and Mexico.
Known for two dramatic prison escapes in his home country with assistance both inside and outside the prisons, embarrassed Mexican officials seemed to be overly zealous in allowing Guzman to be extradited to the United States.
While all of this plays out, the infamous head of the Sinaloa Cartel will have to stay right where he is—the most closely guarded inmate in the United States in one of the country’s highest-security federal prisons, the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan.