- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Monday commended Mexican officials for helping capture and facilitate the extradition of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States last week.

Guzman was flown to New York on Thursday, nearly a year after he was recaptured following his second brazen escape from a Mexican jail, to face federal charges in the United States related to his leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.

“Last week’s significant development in the long-term investigation against drug lord Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman Loera marks an important opening salvo in bringing the alleged head of the world’s largest drug trafficking organization to justice for his crimes,” Mr. Kelly said.

He specifically thanked Mexican President Pena Nieto, Secretary Luis Videgaray and Attorney General Raul Cervantes Andrade for their work in facilitating Guzman’s transfer into American custody.

Guzman made his first appearance in in federal court in Brooklyn Friday and pleaded not guilty. He was indicted on 17 criminal counts related to his oversight a multibillion dollar, multinational criminal enterprise. Authorities said Guzman conspired not only to conspired to import more than 200 metric tons of cocaine into the United States, but also directed assassins to kill thousands of drug trafficking competitors — many of whom were beheaded.

Mr. Kelly said Monday that the cooperative work between Mexican and American authorities will “ensure that one of the world’s most wanted men will stand trial in a U.S. courtroom.”

The extradition comes a year after Guzman was recaptured in Mexico following a brazen prison escape in July 2015, during which the notorious cartel leader was able to slip out of Mexico’s highest-security prison through a sophisticated, mile-long tunnel that connected to the shower in his cell.

The July 2015 escape was his second successful breakout. In 2001, Guzman broke out of another prison and spent more than a decade on the run before his recapture in 2014.

Authorities are taking extra precautions to ensure he remains in custody in the United States.

Guzman is being held in a special unit inside the 12-story Metropolitan Correctional Center, where such other high-profile, high-risk inmates as Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and several former close associates of Osama bin Laden awaited trial, according to The Associated Press.

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