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Mexico Expects to Extradite 'El Chapo' to US in 2017

FILE - Mexico's most wanted drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, stands for his prison mug shot at the Altiplano maximum security federal prison in Almoloya, Mexico, Jan. 8, 2016.

A senior official in Mexico says jailed drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman could be extradited to the United States by no later than February.

American authorities want Guzman on drug trafficking and other charges.

“It was determined by the foreign affairs secretary, [that] there was an indirect protection put forward against extradition, until the district judge can review it. If asylum is denied, it could take the collegiate tribunal up to three months to resolve it,”Renato Sales, Mexican National Security Commissioner, said during an interview to TV network Televisa.

But Guzman’s lawyer, Jose Rodriguez, said the extradition will be “very difficult for to happen between now and January” even though a court could rule on his extradition near the end of the year.

Rodriguez also told Televisa that Guzman will fight to the end and he had a chance to win the case “if not handled politically.”

"Legally we would have to win the extradition, we have the elements necessary. If we don't do well in Mexico, it would not end there. We are able to go to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because the United States is not in its jurisdiction,” Rodriguez said during the Televisa interview.

The comment was debated by Televisa anchor who asked “But the Inter-American Commission is for cases of human rights violations, right?"

El Chapo’s lawyer said “when it comes to an asylum sentence, it is very easy for fundamental rights to be violated. When? When you render a judgment against the law, or you violate due process.

“In this case, we bet on due process,” Rodriguez added.

Authorities said Guzman is under special surveillance after his two previous prison breaks and is not allowed to mix with the general population.

“He’s not in a five-star hotel,” Sales said.

The drug trafficker faces charges that include murder and money laundering in Texas and another for drug distribution in California.

Guzman was recaptured in January and initially placed back in the Altiplano prison. Authorities later transferred him to a federal prison in the northern state of Chihuahua.

Guzman is a leader of Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel.

Some material for this report came from AFP.