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Mexicans urged to extradite world's top drug lord to US

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Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman (C) is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City February 22, 2014.

Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman (C) is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City February 22, 2014.

REUTERS

Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman (C) is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the Navy's airstrip in Mexico City February 22, 2014.

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, the world's most notorious druglord, could be extradited to the US to face trial on trafficking charges amid fears no jail in his native Mexico could hold him.

Guzman (56,) who escaped from a high-security Mexican prison in 2001 by being smuggled out in a laundry truck, was arrested in a dawn raid at a beach resort on Saturday.

The US Attorney's office in New York, where has been charged with smuggling more than 124 tonnes of cocaine into the US, said it would seek his extradition. The Mexican government may be keen to show it can keep Guzman behind bars, however, following a long history of claims that he was protected by senior political and military figures.

Michael McCaul, a US Congressman and chairman of the House committee on homeland security, said: "There is corruption in Mexico.

"I would ask that the Mexicans consider extraditing him to the United States where he would be put into a supermax prison under tight security, where he cannot escape.

"This is the largest, biggest druglord we've ever seen in the world.

"I think extradition to the United States where there are multiple indictments in multiple cities [would mean] we can deal with him in a secure safe way and bring him to justice."

Michael S Vigil, a former senior US Drug Enforcement Agency official, who was briefed on the operation to capture Guzman, said: "It would be a massive black eye on the Mexican government if he is able to escape again."

Guzman, whose fortune is estimated at up to $1bn (€720m), was held in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan.

He was in a modest $1,200 apartment where he was sleeping with an AK47 nearby.

An unidentified woman and three other people were also in the apartment in a nondescript 10-storey building.

About 25 Mexican marines took him by surprise without a shot being fired.

An American DEA team was also on the ground. Photographs of the apartment later showed bedclothes and a bag from a cheap supermarket strewn on the floor.

An official quoted by the Mexican newspaper Reforma said Guzman had spent Saturday in shock at his capture. "He could not believe that we had got to him," the source said.

Days earlier, Mexican marines had missed Guzman by seconds at his ex-wife's home in the city of Culiacan.

A reinforced steel door slowed their entry and he escaped through a secret trapdoor under a bath into the sewers and a tunnel system that linked to six other houses.

Irish Independent