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

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

Credit:

Henry Romero/Reuters

Mexico has extradited drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán to the United States — handing US authorities a massive drug case on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Guzmán is the head of the Sinaloa cartel, which is accused of generating much of the deadly violence in Mexico and providing tons of drugs to the United States.

The Mexican government "delivered Mr. Guzmán Loera to the authorities of the United States" after Mexican courts rejected his latest appeal to avoid extradition, the country's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The appeals court ruled that the extradition conformed with a bilateral treaty and that Guzmán's rights had not been violated, the statement said.

The government did not say to which state Guzmán was sent. CNN and ABC News reported that Guzmán was headed to New York. The Wall Street Journal reported that the US authorities plan to try him in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

A US government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would only confirm to AFP that Guzmán was already on US soil.

Guzmán — whose nickname "El Chapo" is Mexican slang for "shorty" — is the most recognized face of the Mexican drug trade.

When Mexico discussed extraditing Guzmán in January 2016, experts told The World it may have been to avoid another embarrassing escape of the most-wanted drug lord from custody. El Chapo escaped twice from prison in Mexico.

In May, the Mexican foreign ministry approved extradition bids from California, where he is wanted for drug distribution, and Texas, where he faces a slew of charges including murder and money laundering.

Trump, who takes office on Friday, has publicly clashed with Mexico over trade and immigration issues. The Republican president-in-waiting has pledged to build a wall on the US-Mexican border.

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