WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2016 — Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped from custody four times, his last time from a maximum security prison in Mexico. Embarrassed Mexican officials think it’s time the incorruptible gringos to the north take a shot at keeping the Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin under permanent lock and key.
Mexico’s attorney general said extradition requests filed by the United States will be presented to a judicial panel for consideration.
The Associated Press reports, “A Mexican federal law enforcement official said the quickest Guzman could be extradited would be six months, but even that is not likely because lawyers will file appeals. He said that the appeals are usually turned down, but each one means a judge has to schedule a hearing.”
That may be a disappointment to U.S. law enforcement, but the delay must be a source of relief to President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder, the daring duo of gun-running Operation Fast and Furious.
Captured Sinaloa Cartel underling Jesus Vincente Zambada-Niebla asserted in a 2011 filing with U.S. District Court that he was beyond the reach of American justice because, as U.S. government documents requested by his legal team would confirm,
Weapons received by Sinaloa Cartel members and its leaders in Operation Fast & Furious were provided under the agreement entered into between the United States government and … the documentation will also provide evidence showing that the United States government has a policy and pattern of providing benefits, including immunity, to cartel leaders … who are willing to provide information against rival drug cartels.
The media whitewashed that tidbit of Obama’s presidential Adventures. Their favored candidate was running for re-election, after all, and needed a little help as the economy languished and the promised “shovel-ready” jobs failed to materialize.
It would not do to have President Obama and his consigliere at the Justice Department mentioned in the same breath as the murderous Sinaloa Cartel.
That 2011 discovery motion filed by Zambada-Niebla’s attorneys in U.S. District Court was eventually denied by Judge Ruben Castillo. He took the word of Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald that “classified materials” related to Operation Fast and Furious did not “support defendants’ claim that he was promised immunity or public authority for his actions.”
That was a lawyerly non-denial denial.
As an underling, Zambada-Niebla may not have been part of a secret immunity deal reached between the Obama administration and the Sinaloa Cartel. But U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald was silent concerning the cartel’s leaders.
Imagine that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is transferred into U.S. custody to stand trial. Imagine further that the billionaire boss of the Sinaloa drug cartel has his harem of lawyers file discovery motion after discovery motion demanding access to the Justice Department’s classified material “showing that the United States government has a policy and pattern of providing benefits, including immunity, to cartel leaders”?
What will Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald have to say then about Obama and Holder’s deadly Fast and Furious deal with cartel leader El Chapo?