On Thursday, Mexican authorities handed notorious drug cartel chief Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán over to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and the DEA flew him to New York City to face federal charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, weapons, and criminal enterprise charges. El Chapo landed at a regional airport on Long Island Thursday night, and was quickly transferred to a Manhattan prison before an expected court hearing in Brooklyn on Friday. He also faces charges in five other U.S. jurisdictions, and faces up to life in prison.
Mexico agreed to extradite the head of the Sinaloa cartel last May, after he was captured following his second high-profile prison break. His lawyers had protested the extradition, and a Mexican court gave final approval for his transfer to the U.S. on Thursday. A Mexican official also described the extradition, on President Obama's last night in office, as a "farewell gift" to Obama rather than a welcome basket for his successor, President-elect Donald Trump. Trump insulted Mexico and Mexicans during his campaign and has vowed to eventually make Mexico pay for his proposed border wall, and though Mexico's new foreign minister has forged ties with incoming Trump officials, the Mexican official told The Washington Post that the extradition of Guzmán on Obama's watch is meant to signal that in future negotiations, "nothing is for free."
"The fact that we delivered him to Obama is a clear political message that says this is a government we have long collaborated and worked closely with," Jorge Chabat, an expert on security at Mexico City think tank CIDE, told The New York Times. "By not waiting to send him to Trump after his inauguration, it is a subtle statement saying, 'We could do this for you, too, in the future, if we have a good relationship.'" If not, Chabat added, "there won't be any other powerful narcotraffickers extradited," he said. Evan Pérez reported a similar message on CNN Thursday evening, telling Anderson Cooper "it is clear that one of the reasons they wanted to do this now, right before Barack Obama leaves office, was to make sure that Donald Trump couldn't claim victory for this." Watch below. Peter Weber