Mexico would extradite ‘El Chapo’ to United States – if he’s caught again

Story highlights

Mexican attorney general's office gets court order that would allow extradition

But the drug lord is missing after he escaped from a Mexican prison a second time

Mexico declined last year to extradite 'El Chapo' despite U.S. request

CNN  — 

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman would be extradited to the United States if he happens to be caught again, under a Mexican court order announced by authorities.

The court ruling obtained by the Mexican attorney general’s offices marks a reversal from last year when authorities captured Guzman but declined to extradite him immediately to the United States.

At the time, Mexican authorities asserted their sovereignty in first prosecuting Guzman for crimes in Mexico, despite U.S. officials’ concerns that the drug kingpin would escape from a Mexican prison as he had earlier done in 2001.

In fact, on July 11, Guzman did escape again from a Mexican prison, provoking widespread outrage. Seven prison workers have been charged in connection with the escape.

The Mexican attorney general’s office sought the court extradition order at the request of the U.S. government and obtained it on Wednesday, the office said in a statement.

“During the analysis conducted by the attorney general, it was verified that the application meets the requirements established by the extradition treaty between the two countries and the requirements mandated by the Mexican legislation,” the statement said.

Analysts have advanced many interpretations on why Mexico last year declined to extradite Guzman to the United States shortly after his more recent arrest.

Some say President Enrique Peña Nieto wanted to limit U.S. involvement in Mexico’s drug war and felt having the United States try and possibly imprison Mexico’s top criminal would be a blow to the country’s ego and sovereignty.

Others says former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam scuttled any potential deal.

While some theorize Mexican officials feared “El Chapo” might expose dirty dealings among the country’s politicians, Murillo Karam publicly said he disapproved of the United States cutting deals with criminals – as it did in 2013 with Jesús Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada Niebla, the son of Guzman’s top lieutenant – and not sharing with Mexico any intelligence from their cooperation.

Officially, Murillo Karam said Guzman would not be extradited until he finished serving his time in Mexico, a sentiment echoed by Mexico’s Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora to the United States. When Guzman escaped in 2001, he had served only seven of a more than 20-year sentence, and “El Chapo” racked up eight more charges before being recaptured last year.

There are at least seven indictments against Guzman in various U.S. jurisdictions, and at least one U.S. attorney’s office has said it plans to seek extradition.

CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.