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Drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzman charged in Mexico

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 24, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.

MEXICO CITY — Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been formally charged with violations of Mexico's drug-trafficking laws, starting a legal process that makes swift extradition to the U.S. unlikely, Mexican officials said Monday.

Guzman was charged with cocaine trafficking Sunday inside a maximum-security prison outside the nation's capital, Mexico's Federal Judicial Council announced. A judge has until Tuesday to decide whether to release him or start the process of bringing him to trial. Mexican authorities believe the judge will launch the trial process, a Mexican federal official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Guzman can appeal the judge's decision, a process that typically takes weeks or months. Mexican officials are also weighing whether to renew a string of other charges that Guzman faces inside Mexico. The decision to bring one local charge against Guzman indicates that President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration is leaning toward refiling at least some of the others, further delaying any possible extradition.

Guzman escaped a Mexican prison in 2001 and spent the next 13 years on the run before he was arrested Saturday morning in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlan by Mexican marines acting on U.S. intelligence. He faces charges in at least seven U.S. jurisdictions and U.S. officials have been pushing for his swift extradition.

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