Mexico approves US extradition warrant for fugitive drug kingpin Guzman

Two Federal Police officers stand next to a patrol car with a picture of fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on its window in Acapulco, Mexico, on July 14, 2015.
Two Federal Police officers stand next to a patrol car with a picture of fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on its window in Acapulco, Mexico, on July 14, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - The Mexican Attorney General's office said on Thursday that a judge had approved an order to extradite to the United States drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who escaped from prison through a tunnel earlier this month.

Mexico said it received a US extradition request on June 25, a couple of weeks before Guzman's breakout from a maximum security prison not far from Mexico City.

Guzman remains at large since escaping through a tunnel.

The government had said it expected a US request after Guzman's last capture in February 2014, but previous attorney general Jesus Murillo indicated in January 2015 that the capo would not be handed over so he could serve time in Mexico.

Now headed by Arely Gomez, the Attorney General's office said in a brief statement that the US extradition request had been analysed and was consistent with existing laws.

Guzman, boss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, is wanted by US authorities for a variety of criminal charges, including cocaine smuggling and money laundering.

The failure to extradite him after the June 25 request was heavily criticised by the government's critics after the jail break.

Guzman's drug gang has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and is blamed for thousands of deaths through addiction and gang violence.