Mexican cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is one step closer to facing charges in the United States after Mexico’s secretariat of foreign relations, or SRE, said the Sinaloa cartel boss can be extradited.
The decision, first reported by the Associated Press, doesn’t mean a deal is set in stone, however, because Guzman’s attorneys have the right to appeal the transfer. A final decision could still be weeks away.
Texas remains on the list of places Guzmán could end up, although the offices of multiple U.S. Attorneys, including the Western District of Texas, have charges pending against the cartel leader. He is also wanted in Chicago, San Diego, New York and Miami.
The Associated Press reported that American authorities agreed Guzman would not face the death penalty if convicted in an American court.
Speculation that Guzman would be extradited sooner than later was heightened earlier this month when he was transferred from a maximum-security prison to a federal facility in Ciudad Juárez, which sits just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
Mexican authorities downplayed the transfer, saying it was part of a routine process due to upgrades being performed at the Mexico City facility.
A partially redacted indictment filed in 2012 by the Western District of Texas' El Paso division charged him with more than a dozen criminal counts including murder, kidnapping and various conspiracy charges. In its 2015 Texas Gang Threat Assessment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said the Sinaloa cartel still has an active presence on both sides of the border.
Guzman was recaptured in January after escaping from the Mexico City prison in July.