By Tyler Arnott, CIB Americas Desk *
Mexico’s Attorney General Arely Gómez was recently reported stating that the extradition of Sinaloa leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán could take up to a year to materialize due to numerous injunctions made by Guzmán’s lawyers. This additional time could help the Sinaloa Cartel maintain their cartel alliances and reduce the decline in power from losing one of their leaders. Ever since the recapture of Guzmán, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has been vocal about extraditing the cartel leader to the United States. The legal team for Guzmán has been working steadily to elongate the legal process. The Attorney General, Arely Gómez, said that the extradition process will continue to take place until they are told otherwise by the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.
Currently Guzmán resides at El Altiplano Penitentiary, which is the maximum security prison that he had escaped from in 2015. The prison also houses several high-ranking leaders of rival cartels like Miguel Treviño Morales (previous leader of the Los Zetas Cartel) and Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano (previous leader of the Tijuana Cartel). Mexican officials have been working towards the goal of extraditing Guzmán to the United States ever since his recapture on January 8, 2016. Guzmán’s principal lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo Soto, has already made injunctions with the prison to eliminate the solitary confinement placed on his client so that his legal advisors can communicate with him. Soto added that he is confident that Guzmán will not be extradited at any recent time.
President Nieto cannot use executive power to extradite a criminal to another country. The outcome of the legal battle will be important for the direction of Mexico and its war against illegal crime. If successful in extraditing El Chapo, Mexico could use the court case for future court hearings. It would also generate a larger deterrent due to the consequences that could be enforced upon criminals. One of the main goals for President Nieto is to help modernize Mexico and reduce the cartel activity inside the country.
The legal battle between El Chapo and the State of Mexico could become a larger problem than governmental officials originally anticipated. With the Attorney General recently stating that it could take several years to successfully complete the legal actions for extradition, it can be stated with high confidence that El Chapo will remain inside of Mexican borders for the remainder of 2016. In previous arrests of its leaders, the Sinaloa cartel has not suffered a decline in production or power. If El Chapo remains in Mexico, it is probable that the Sinaloa Cartel will be unaffected by his arrest. The Sinaloa Cartel still has the leadership of Ismael Zambada García while El Chapo remains imprisoned. The rival gang of the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, might have plans to form new alliances with fellow cartels but may be ineffective due to the fact that they would have to overcome El Chapo’s legacy which still remains alive in Mexico. If the Mexican government fails to extradite Guzmán to the United States, then the issue may cause a backlash and strengthen the support for Guzmán and the Sinaloa Cartel. This has been an early victory for Joaquín Guzmán against the State of Mexico.
“Amparo Ordena Cesar Incomunicación Contra ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán” Excélsior. 5 Feb. 2016.
“El Chapo Extradition Could Take up to a Year” Mexico News Daily. Mexico News Daily, 6 Feb. 2016.
Estevez, Dolina “Why Hasn’t Mexico Asked For Assurances That El Chapo Won’t Be Executed?” Forbes Magazine, 2 Feb. 2016.
“Juez Federal Otorga a ‘El Chapo’ Un Amparo Contra Posible Extradición” Economiahoy.mx, 3 Feb. 2016.
* Analytical Question: Will the Los Zetas Cartel in Mexico become stronger after the arrest of El Chapo and the weakening of the Sinaloa Cartel?