Mexican drug lord extradition on hold pending appeal

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2016, file photo, Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, right, is escorted by soldiers and marines to a waiting helicopter, at a federal hangar in Mexico City, after his arrest. The world's most wanted drug lord was recaptured by Mexican marines months after he fled through a tunnel from a maximum security prison in an escape that deeply embarrassed the government and strained ties with the United States. Now that a Mexican judge has ruled that extradition proceedings for "El Chapo" can go forward, the U.S. Justice Department must choose which one of the competing jurisdictions will win the prize of putting him on trial. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A judge in Mexico granted a temporary stay of extradition for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Tuesday until arguments can be heard on two appeals filed by his lawyers.

Guzman’s lawyer, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, said one of the appeals argues that the statute of limitations has run out on some crimes Guzman is accused of in the United States. The defense also argues that some of the accusations against Guzman are based on hearsay, not direct evidence.

Rodriguez said the appeals were filed late Monday in courts in Mexico City.

A judge ruled that arguments should be heard on the appeals, a step that is almost automatic in extradition cases.

Rodriguez predicted it could take as long as three years to resolve the appeals.

In all, Guzman faces drug trafficking and other charges from seven U.S. federal prosecutors, including in Chicago, New York, Miami and San Diego.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department ruled in May that the extradition can go forward, in part because the United States has guaranteed that Guzman would not face the death penalty. Mexico has abolished capital punishment and does not extradite its citizens if they face possible execution.

Guzman faces an extradition request from a Texas federal court related to charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, money-laundering, arms possession and murder, and another extradition request from a federal court in California related to drug trafficking.

Guzman was arrested in January after almost six months on the run following his escape from a maximum-security prison through a mile-long tunnel that opened to the floor of his shower.

He had already escaped once before in 2001 and spent more than a decade as one of the world’s most wanted fugitives until he was recaptured in 2014.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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