Drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzmán moved to Juárez prison
MEXICO CITY (AP):
Convicted drug lord Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, who twice pulled off brazen jailbreaks and is fighting to avoid extradition to the United States, was abruptly transferred to a prison in northern Mexico near the Texas border early on Saturday.
Lawyers for Guzmán, who was recaptured in January, have filed multiple appeals against their client being sent to the US, and Mexican officials have said it could take as long as a year to reach a final ruling. There was no immediate indication that the transfer could be a sign that the process is nearing conclusion.
Mexican government officials said the Sinaloa Cartel boss was moved from the maximum-security Altiplano lock-up near Mexico City to the Cefereso No. 9 prison in Ciudad Juárez, which is across from El Paso, Texas. The Interior Department said the move was due to work being done to reinforce security at Altiplano.
Mexico's National Security Commission said in a statement that the transfer was in line with security protocols, and it has rotated more than 7,400 inmates nationwide as part of a strategy implemented last September.
Michael Vigil, the former head of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said Guzmán was moved because of security concerns. Vigil, who said he had been briefed by Mexican officials, did not specify those concerns or say whether Mexican officials had information about possible new escape plots. He also did not specify the officials with whom he spoke.
José Refugio Rodríguez, an attorney for Guzman, said defense lawyers had not been notified beforehand and one of them was traveling to Juárez to try to meet with their client.
"I don't know what the strategy is," Refugio told The Associated Press. "I can't say what the government is thinking."
He confirmed that Guzmán's lawyers are still trying to block extradition.