Suspected money launderer for drug kingpin 'El Chapo' detained in Mexico

Handout police photograph of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman as he was imprisoned in Almoloya de Juarez, taken on Jan 8, 2016.
Handout police photograph of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman as he was imprisoned in Almoloya de Juarez, taken on Jan 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - A man suspected of laundering money for jailed drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman had been  detained in south-western Mexico and faces extradition to the United States, the Mexican authorities said on Sunday (March 27).

Juan Manuel Alvarez, who was arrested in Oaxaca state, has ties to an international money laundering network that spans Mexico, Colombia, Panama and the United States, the Mexican police said via their official Twitter account.

A separate statement from Mexico's National Security Commision, which coordinates security forces, said Alvarez is being sought over money laundering allegations in the US.

Describing him as the "principal financial operator" for an undisclosed drug trafficking group, the statement said he headed another criminal organisation that operates mainly in the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

That state is home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNG), whose gunmen shot down an army helicopter in the state last May, claiming the lives of six military personnel. The JNG have historic ties to Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzman, who escaped twice from Mexican maximum-security prisons, was recaptured in Mexico in January and is seeking to speed up his extradition to the US in the hope he will be treated better in prison there.

As head of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzman is accused of leading a bloody war against rival gangs and smuggling vast quantities of illegal drugs into the United States.