Mexican drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ pleads not guilty to US charges
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman pleaded not guilty on Friday to U.S. charges that he ran the world’s largest drug-trafficking organization for decades.
Guzman appeared in a Brooklyn federal court just after 2 p.m. ET, less than 24 hours after he was extradited from Mexico to face a 17-count indictment.
Guzman was one of the world’s most wanted drug kingpins until he was captured in January 2016. Six months earlier, he had broken out of a high-security penitentiary in central Mexico through a mile-long tunnel.
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“The government … today handed Mr Guzman Loera to the U.S. authorities,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to a court decision on Thursday rejecting a legal challenge by his lawyers against extradition.
Guzman is charged in six separate indictments throughout the United States. He faces charges ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder in cities that include Chicago, Miami and New York.
His career began in the opium and cannabis farming hills of the northern state of Sinaloa but he grew to oversee perhaps the world’s largest transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling organization.
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Guzman’s career was violent and his ambition to control more trafficking routes was a key dynamic in Mexico’s decade-long drug war from which his organization emerged mostly victorious.
The U.S. Justice Department thanked Mexico for “extensive cooperation and assistance in securing the extradition of Guzman Loera to the United States.”
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