What in the world is going on with ‘Chapo’ Guzman’s dueling attorneys, extradition to U.S.?

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Allan Wall, MexiData.info

The Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman case is not going away and it provides constant new developments. Furthermore, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

On Jan. 8th, Chapo was recaptured by the Mexican Navy in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

Soon after Chapo was in custody, it emerged that, before his capture, Chapo had been visited by dual citizen Mexican/U.S. actress Kate del Castillo, and American actor Sean Penn – who wrote a piece about the whole experience for Rolling Stone magazine. See The Spectacle of Sean Penn and the Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman: A Review.

Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza, a lawyer for Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. / Yuri Cortez / AFP
Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza, a lawyer for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. / Yuri Cortez / AFP

Today, the Mexican government is willing to extradite Chapo to the United States, where he has charges filed against him in seven U.S. federal courts. See Will Mexico’s ‘Chapo’ Guzman Be Extradited to the USA?

From the Mexican government’s perspective, the advantage of extradition is it gets Chapo out of the country and the Mexican legal system, so hopefully Chapo can’t either (1) run his operation from prison, or (2) escape for the third time.

The extradition process is a complex one, however. Plus, Chapo now has dueling attorneys, simultaneously fighting extradition and requesting extradition.

On February 4th, Chapo lawyer Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza held a news conference right outside the Altiplano prison where Chapo is back in custody. Gonzalez Meza was wearing a sweat shirt with a photo of Guzman and the slogan “Extradition Never!!!” written in English. (Check out the photos here; this attorney is a real showman.)

Gonzalez Meza said he was planning a hunger strike in support of Chapo Guzman, and he appealed to his fellow Mexicans to strike along with him. (Gonzalez Meza is allowing himself water and juice.)

On the other hand, Guzman lawyer Jose Refugio Rodriguez has stated that el Chapo has it so bad at Altiplano that he wants to be extradited and is even willing to plea bargain to do so. Of course, he has his conditions, a “reasonable” sentence, and in in a medium-security U.S. prison.

So what’s going on? Are Chapo’s attorneys just working at cross-purposes or are they both part of a coordinated plan?

Maybe so. Even Jose Refugio Rodriguez, who says Chapo wants to be extradited, says the requests for injunctions preventing Chapo’s extradition, filed by Chapo lawyers, won’t be dropped until they can make an extradition deal with U.S. prosecutors.

Chapo’s family is involved in all the publicity. His sister, Bernarda Guzman Loera, was outside the prison on the day of the lawyer’s press conference, and she spoke with the media and expressed the family’s concern about her brother.

Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel, in an interview, went so far as to say that “I’m not certain that he [Chapo Guzman] traffics drugs.” Well, there you go.

The Guardian had an exclusive interview with Rosa Isela Guzman Ortiz, a daughter of Chapo who lives in California. She said that her dad had been betrayed by Ismael “el Mayo” Zambada, the other head of the Sinaloa Cartel, and by the Mexican government. (El Mayo is still at large and has actually never been jailed.)

Chapo’s daughter also claimed that Chapo indeed visited California twice during his latest period of freedom. Given the state of the U.S.-Mexican border, that wouldn’t be surprising.

As a service for any readers who just returned from a few decades on a desert isle, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera, a billionaire drug lord of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, was captured in Guatemala in 1993, extradited to Mexico, and sentenced to prison for a twenty-year term. In 2001, Chapo escaped from the State of Jalisco Puente Grande prison.

In February of 2014, Chapo was captured anew in Mazatlan. (See Mexican Drug Lord ‘Chapo’ Guzman Captured in Mazatlan, Sinaloa and Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman remains in the Limelight.)

Then, in July of 2015, Chapo escaped from Mexico’s Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1, “Altiplano,” the famous prison near Almoloya in the State of Mexico.

Chapo escaped through a mile-long tunnel, the construction of which had been going on for quite some time and right under the noses of prison authorities. That of course strongly indicates some heavy-duty collusion with some prison officials.

The escape was especially embarrassing to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was out of the country at the time. (See Our 2015 Summer Visit to Mexico and Could Mexico’s Escaped Drug Baron Chapo Guzman be Back Home?)

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