El Chapo Extradited to US, Faces Massive Federal Case in New York

El Chapo in US custody after his extradition from Mexico. Photo by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

MANHATTEN — Jaoquin Guzman, better known as El Chapo, is being held in a jail cell in Manhatten as law enforcement in the Eastern District of New York get to work on a massive case against the most wanted drug criminal in the world. Recently extradited to the United States, federal officials are eager to quickly press ahead of a case against the alleged drug smuggler and (former) leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.

Rolling Stone said the New York federal case is the strongest in the United States and Mexico News Daily reports that that El Chapo will face the court in a hearing conducted by video because the judge wanted to take no chances with this alleged drug kingpin who has escaped capture from two different prisons in Mexico.

The federal authorities are also eager to seize his estimated $14 billion fortune made from proceeds of the illegal transcontinental and intercontinental drug trade. The drug lords of Mexico have riled authorities and challenged civil order on both sides of the border, using the wealth and power to intimidate and evade all while growing their enterprise. The cartels' cutthroat tactics in recent years have made areas of Mexico the most dangerous places in the world, even more so than some war torn areas of the Middle East and Africa. The Cartels, not just the Sinaloa but the Los Zetas, Gulf, Tijuana and Juarez, are involved in bribing officials, the police and citizens and violently eliminate witnesses and rivals, which has proven to complicate targeting these groups. The cartels sell their product internationally and have a lot of influence in Central and South America. El Chapo, for example, worked with Colombian drug smuggling cartels to ship cocaine to the U.S. in semi-submersible submarine vehicles. El Chapo also made the Forbes list, which also riled the feathers of lawmakers and law enforcement in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Officials also may feel emboldened by the rhetoric of the new President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, who has had choice words about Mexico and criminal groups there. However, he has also offended many Latinos citizens and immigrants living in the United States with his talk of building a wall and cracking down on immigrants. That extends to fears from Muslim Americans in the midst of the War on Terror the American government has begun to wage in addition to the War on Drugs. These wars tend to be very long and drawn out and so far, without light at the end of the tunnel. Obama's administration managed to supposedly kill Osama Bin Laden, former leader of a terrorist group in Afghanistan and the government is now fighting fiercer opponents leftover from the aftermath of war tied to Bin Laden. Now the government has El Chapo, but may soon face the same issue in Southern and Central America. Indeed, after the government defeated Colombian coke kingpin Pablo Escobar, the Mexican cartels moved in stronger and bloodier.

Nonetheless, the case against El Chapo Guzman is very strong, with 17 counts and many witnesses. Guzman does not yet have his own attorney but that could be both because the federal government is working to seize his assets and the many "narco bar" attorneys in the southern part of the U.S. are representing those unnamed witnesses testifying against him in federal court in New York. He is accused of murder and smuggling tons of drugs across the Mexico-U.S. border. He is also accused of using assassins called Sicarios to eliminate rivals and those cooperating with the authorities. He will have his video hearing in February.