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Mexico Judge Approves Extradition of 'El Chapo' to US

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 ruled that drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman can be extradited to face charges in the United States.

Mexico's federal court authority announced the approval of the extradition request Monday, but the final decision lies with the foreign ministry.

Guzman's lawyers can appeal the decision.

On Saturday, Guzman was moved from the maximum security Altiplano prison to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, a city located along at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A Mexican government statement said the transfer was prompted by ongoing security upgrades at that facility, and characterized the move as part of a periodic rotation of high-profile prisoners initiated last year.

Guzman escaped from Altiplano in July 2015, in what was widely seen as a major embarrassment to the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto. He gained his freedom by crawling through a hole in his jail cell's shower to a 1.5-kilometer tunnel. He was captured six months later in a military operation in his home state of Sinaloa.

Guzman was first arrested in 1993, before escaping, with the help of guards, in 2001 from a prison in Guadalajara. He was apprehended 13 years later with information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies.