A Mexican judge will consider whether to extradite drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the US on 26 September. On Wednesday (14 September), a US official said that the judge would begin deliberating on the deportation by the end of the month, but added that Guzman could challenge the decision.
According to reports, the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel's lawyer has said that the procedure could take months or even years. But US officials are hopeful that the jailed drug lord is extradited by the year end.
"We are still on track for him to be extradited before the end of the year," the US official told AFP.
Earlier in May, Mexico had agreed to transfer Guzman after the US guaranteed he would not face death penalty. But in June, a judge provisionally halted the extradition after Guzman's lawyers challenged the ruling and said that the decree of limitations had run out on some crimes Guzman is accused of in the US and that a number of the charges lacked direct evidence.
El Chapo, one of the world's most wanted drug lord – until his arrest in February 2014 – had escaped from prison via an elaborate tunnel in July 2015. After almost six months on the run, he was recaptured in Los Mochis, Sinaloa State, in January this year.
Since then, the US has been seeking his extradition where he faces charges including money laundering, drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder – in cities like Chicago, Miami and New York.