ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The world's most notorious drug trafficker left a Mexican prison today. This time, though, it was with an escort out the door and not in a daring escape. Joaquin El Chapo Guzman has been extradited to the U.S. He was handed over to DEA agents this afternoon and put on a plane to New York where he'll face charges in connection to his leadership of one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: According to Mexican officials, Guzman was handed over to U.S. authorities this afternoon in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. Shortly after, the U.S. Justice Department confirmed the handover and said Guzman was on his way to New York. It's been a long and spectacular journey for the infamous leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel. It involves two daring prison escapes, years on the run, a clandestine meeting with Hollywood stars and lengthy legal maneuvers. But in the end, Guzman will face what he's feared the most, a U.S. prison cell.
According to the Justice Department, Guzman is charged in six separate indictments throughout the United States. First up will be in federal court in New York. He faces multiple charges for money laundering, drug trafficking and murder, all connected to his leadership of the Sinaloa drug cartel, one of the largest and far-reaching in the world today.
Mexico had at one point said it would not extradite Guzman and would have him stand trial for his crimes at home. That was shortly after a second arrest in 2014. But the government reversed itself after being embarrassed by Guzman's brazen escape from Mexico's maximum security prison in the summer of 2015.
From a hole that began in Guzman's prison cell, the drug lord climbed down a ladder and then rode a rigged motorcycle through a mile-long tunnel to freedom. Guzman remained on the run for nearly six months. During that time, he met secretly with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and U.S. actor Sean Penn.
Shortly after, though, and partly due to his meeting with the stars, Mexican officials caught up with Guzman, capturing him in January of last year. This time officials immediately began extradition procedures. Guzman's lawyers have been fighting it ever since. He lost his final appeal this week. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.