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El Chapo's Extradition to US Suspended

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FILE - Recaptured drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico, Jan. 8, 2016.

FILE - Recaptured drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico, Jan. 8, 2016.

A Mexican judge has temporarily blocked the extradition to the U.S. of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most powerful drug lord and one of the world's most notorious criminals.

After Guzman's lawyers submitted appeals late Monday, the judge ruled Tuesday that their documents should be reviewed and their appeal arguments heard before the drug lord is extradited.

His lawyers claim that the statute of limitations has run out on some of the crimes of which he is accused in the U.S., and that some of the accusations against him are based more on hearsay than hard evidence.

U.S. officials are still confident that he will be sent to the U.S. within the year, though Guzman's lawyer said it could take as long as three years.

Guzman is wanted in the states of California and Texas on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and murder.

Mexico had approved his extradition to the United States in May after being assured that he would not face the death penalty. Mexico no longer uses the death penalty and avoids extradition to nations where it is still in practice.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto initially opposed the extradition, favoring trying Mexico's most notorious criminal domestically.

Authorities arrested Guzman in January after he escaped from a maximum-security prison in July 2015, in an incident embarrassing to the Mexican government.

He gained his freedom by crawling through a hole in his jail cell's shower to a 1.5-kilometer tunnel.

Guzman also escaped from prison in Guadalajara in 2001 and remained at large for 13 years before being apprehended with information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies.

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