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Mexico approves extradition of drug boss 'El Chapo' to US

AFP (file photo) | Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, pictured on January 8, 2016.

Mexico on Friday approved the extradition of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States where he faces narcotics and murder charges, the foreign ministry said.

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"The Mexican government grants his international extradition to the government of the United States of America for him to be tried," the ministry said in a statement.

The announcement follows a series of dramatic escapades by El Chapo or "Shorty" Guzman, considered the world's most wanted drug boss as leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

He escaped from a top-security jail in July 2015 and was recaptured this January after police investigations and a colourful episode involving a soap opera actress and the US Hollywood star Sean Penn, who met with the 59-year-old drug boss in hiding.

The ministry said it had approved the extradition after receiving assurances from the US government that Guzman would not face the death penalty if convicted, since he could not receive such a punishment under Mexican law.

It said it had notified the suspect's lawyers of the agreement to extradite Guzman, who is wanted by courts in California and Texas.

Guzman's legal team has a month to appeal against the decision before it is carried out.

Juan Pablo Badillo, one of Guzman's lawyers, told Reuters he would file "many" legal challenges in the coming days.

A Mexican judge on Monday ruled that Guzman could be extradited to face drug trafficking, money laundering and murder charges in a US federal court in Texas.

Previously a judge had also endorsed an extradition request based on cocaine-smuggling charges in California.

Another of Guzman's lawyers, Jorge Refugio Rodriguez, told AFP after those rulings that he would appeal if the foreign ministry decided to extradite his client.

Refugio has vowed to fight extradition unless US authorities negotiate good prison conditions for Guzman.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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