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Mexican Authorities Send El Chapo Over To U.S.

Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, has been extradited to the U.S., Mexican officials announced on Jan. 19.

In American courts, Guzman will face charges for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering "in connection with his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel," the U.S Justice Department said in a statement, according to NPR.

Mexico convicted Guzman of various crimes, but has slipped out of the country's prisons twice. His most notable escape came in 2015, when he walked out of what was considered Mexico's most secure prison through a large tunnel. He was recaptured shortly after.

Guzman's first high-profile escape happened in 2001, when he reportedly broke free from his cell by hiding in a laundry basket, notes BBC. He was able to evade capture until 2014.

Though Mexican officials initially said that he would remain in the country to serve his sentence there before they would consider extradition requests, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto ordered officials to expedite the process in January, and it was completed on President Barack Obama's final day in office.

The drug lord fought against being moved to the U.S. on the grounds that he could face the death penalty if sent to Texas, though the Mexican legal system denied his requests.  American officials assured Mexico that Guzman's treatment in the States would not violate his human rights.

The story of El Chapo is one that is both hated and respected in Mexico, with some seeing him as a symbol of corruption who has tortured many and been responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands, while others see him as somebody who found a way to success when he had nothing.

"Well, it's a reality, that drugs destroy," Guzman told actor Sean Penn in a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, days before his recapture, when he was asked if he feels guilty for contributing to drug abuse. "Unfortunately, as I said, where I grew up there was no other way and there still isn't … a way to survive."

Sources: BBC, NPR, Rolling Stone / Photo credit: Day Donaldson/Flickr

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