By Nancy Caouette
MEXICO CITY (AA) – The country’s most notorious drug cartel leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was extradited to the United States on Thursday to face drug trafficking and other charges, Mexican authorities said.
Officials said Guzman was handed over to U.S. authorities at the Ciudad Juarez International Airport, a Mexican city that shares the border with the U.S. state of Texas. His hand over comes just hours before Donald Trump assumes the office of the President of the United States.
The boss of the Sinaloa cartel twice escaped prison and was recaptured for the last time last January. The Mexican foreign ministry said he was put on a plane that took him to New York, one of the jurisdictions where Guzman faces charges.
In Washington, the Justice Department said Guzman is facing six separate indictments throughout the U.S.
The location and date of his initial court appearance has yet to be made public.
Mexico began extradition proceedings in May, but the process was delayed by a juridical fight by Guzman’s lawyers.
Guzman was first arrested in 1993 on drug-trafficking charges.
He was given a 20-year prison sentence but managed to escape from the Puente Grande jail in 2001.
He was captured a second time in February 2014, but again escaped five months later from the maximum security prison in Altiplano, near Mexico City.
Guzman was finally caught in the northwestern state of Sinaloa in January 2016, following a massive manhunt that lasted several months.
He is wanted in the U.S. on murder, drug trafficking, laundering, organized crime and firearms possession charges.
Mexico had resisted handing over Guzman as a point of national pride, arguing he would first serve serve his sentences.
*Anadolu Agency Washington Correspondent Michael Hernandez contributed to this report.