Reputed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s extradition to the United States has been approved, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Lawyers for Guzman will appeal, attorney Andres Granados told CNN from Mexico.
Granados said that if the appeal is denied, the team isn’t ruling out going to the Mexican Supreme Court to ask for a stay on the extradition.
Guzman’s lead attorney told CNN’s Rafael Romo that the whole process could take another one to three years.
“We were already expecting this scenario. Our next step is filing an appeal within the next 30 days (in federal court), as the law allows,” Jose Refugio Rodriguez said.
He said that ruling will be reviewed by a higher court.
Even after all legal remedies are exhausted in Mexico, the request to halt the extradition could go to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The United States has been preparing for Guzman’s transfer for months and has been hammering out the security details, American officials said two weeks ago when a judge in Mexico approved the transfer.
The U.S officials told CNN that once he is transferred, Guzman could be sent to Brooklyn, New York, to stand trial on federal charges.
In Brooklyn, Guzman and other cartel leaders were indicted in 2009 on charges of conspiring to import more than 264,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States between 1990 and 2005, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The alleged traffickers also are accused of sharing drug transportation routes and obtaining their drugs from various Colombian drug organizations.
Guzman also faces charges in Arizona, California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida and New Hampshire. Rodriguez said the government decision was based on extradition requests from California and Texas.
It’s not immediately clear when Guzman will be turned over to U.S. custody. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said it had received assurances that if convicted Guzman would not receive the death penalty. Mexico opposes death sentences.
Earlier this month, Guzman was transferred from the maximum-security Altiplano lockup in central Mexico to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, near the U.S. border.
“Due to the proximity (to the United States), it makes it easier to extradite him,” a senior Mexican law enforcement source told CNN.
Altiplano is the same prison near Mexico City from which the drug lord escaped last July and to which he was returned after his January 8 recapture in the coastal city of Los Mochis in Sinaloa state. “El Chapo” slipped out through a tunnel in the brazen escape, taking advantage of a blind spot in a cell security camera.
Now the notorious Sinaloa cartel boss finds himself behind bars just across from El Paso, Texas.
Guzman is the focus of 10 legal cases in Mexico, mainly for drug trafficking, murder and charges related to his role as a cartel leader.
CNN Espanol’s Krupskaia Alis in Mexico City contributed to this report.