Why the U.S. and Mexico are fighting over the drug world's most dangerous mind


Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam this week announced that he was expecting the U.S. government to request the extradition of imprisoned drug kingpin Chapo Guzman within the “next hours.” Mexican news anchor and Fusion contributor Carlos Loret de Mola also tweeted that high-level Mexican government sources told him an extradition request was expected “briefly.”


Since then, there has been no official announcement from either government. The U.S. Department of Justice has not confirmed or denied the reports and did not respond to Fusion’s request for comment.

Even in prison, Chapo continues to be a dangerous man, mostly because of the wealth of criminal information stored in his head. That information — the key to Mexico's criminal underground — is what officials on both sides of the border want to tap, and it's also what makes his possible extradition so tricky.

“That man has been at the heart of drug-trafficking for 30 years. And that makes him an extremely valuable asset that can divulge tons of information,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope told Fusion.

Chapo could also have sensitive intel on corrupt government officials and answers to decade-old mysteries, such as who really killed DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena? He could also potentially verify rumored alliances between cartels and the Mexican government.


Mexican nationalism is another reason why government authorities would hesitate to part with their prized drug-war trophy, Hope says. Mexican politicians wouldn’t want to be seen as buckling to yanqui demands.

Security expert John Bailey says it's important for Mexico to try Chapo for crimes he committed in Mexican territory — even if that process takes years. Plus, Bailey said, Mexican authorities are generally opposed to the type of plea bargain deals arranged in the U.S. — where he also faces multiple charges ranging from drug trafficking to homicide in at least seven federal judicial districts.


"All the Americans want is information," Bailey said, “and find out how far the Sinaloa group reaches into the United States.”

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