El Chapo, Extradition, and Deportation

The DEA said the capture of Joaquin “ El Chapo” Guzman-Loera was a victory for the rule of law as well as a victory for the Mexican people and government.


Transnational organized crime, violence, and drug trafficking have become the leading objective of American and international law enforcement agencies.


The question in the Guzman case is whether he will be tried in Mexico or America for a laundry list of crimes of violence and drug trafficking.


If American authorities prevail in its efforts to have El Chapo extradited to the United States, the next question to be answered is in which jurisdiction will he stand trial. Currently there are seven federal jurisdictions waiting for an opportunity to prosecute Guzman for criminal indictments pending against him.”


The prevailing consensus of American law enforcement officials is that he will square off against the U.S. criminal justice system in the Eastern District of New York in a Brooklyn courtroom. This seems a logical venue since current U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was the former Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York’s Eastern District.


But there other six federal districts that want introduce Guzman to American justice are: Chicago, San Diego, Miami, Manhattan, and New Hampshire.


Chicago is probably the jurisdiction that Guzman’s legal defense team would dread the most. He has been declared the city’s first Public Enemy No. 1 since Al Capone. The federal case against El Chapo in this jurisdiction began in 2008 when Tomas  Arevalo-Renteria arranged to have a 12 kilogram drug shipment delivered to twin brothers, Pedro and Margarito Flores—both of whom were two of the largest drug dealers Chicago had ever seen.


What Renteria didn’t know was that the brothers had become DEA informants. This would prove to be a downfall mistake not only for Renteria but for El Chapo as well. Renteria was part of Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel which was moving tons of heroin and cocaine into the U.S. from South America and Mexico to the Flores’s for distribution on Chicago mean streets. The Renteria mistake led the indictment of not only Guzman but his chief lieutenant Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez.


Last year Hernandez received a 22-year sentence while Renteria received a 19-year sentence. Both men refused to enter into agreements with the government to cooperate against Guzman or anyone else indicted in the drug smuggling conspiracy. The Flores brothers received 14-year sentences because of their cooperation with the government.


Guzman will thus face a severe prison sentence if convicted in federal court in Chicago.


In its efforts to have Guzman extradited to the U.S., American authorities have taken the death penalty off the table. This is a prerequisite in any case involving a Mexican citizen because Mexico does not have the death penalty and will not send any of its citizens, no matter how violent, to a country that does.


Extradition in Drug Cases


In 2009, Professor Edward Morgan wrote that “extradition, as opposed to domestic prosecution, has become the law enforcement vehicle of choice for governments willing to engage with the United States in the anti-drug campaign.”


While individuals arrested in this country and who face drug charges in another country are not always extradited, this does not mean these individuals will not be deported.


Get Charged with a Drug Crime as a Non-Citizen and You Better Pack Your Bags


Get Charged with a Drug Crime as a Noncitizen and You Better Pack Your Bags

Drug trafficking is a serious crime regardless of who you are, and the penalties you will face are incredibly harsh. But if you are a non-citizen charged with drug trafficking, deportation is almost guaranteed to be on the table.


That’s just the beginning. There are many crimes that qualify a non-citizen for deportation.


Even if you have legally obtained a visa or a green card, there is a long list of crimes that are considered grounds for deportation. For example, convictions for domestic violence, sexual assaults, child abuse, human trafficking or terrorism are absolute deportable offenses.


Drug crimes are also prominent in the deportation scheme.  Even if the drug offense in question is not connected to violence, it can be considered just as serious as a violent offense by immigration officials. It does not matter if the drug offense was committed at the state, federal or international level, you will be subject to deportation upon conviction and completion of any sentence imposed for the conviction. Personal possession of marijuana of less than 30 grams is the only exception to this rule.


You can even be deported if you have either abused drugs or become addicted to them—and a conviction is not a requisite for deportation. Medical records or your own statements are sufficient to constitute drug abuse subjecting you to possible deportation.


So there you have it. If you are caught with drugs and you are not a U.S. citizen, you face serious legal trouble. This does not mean that it is impossible to avoid deportation, however. The key is to craft a strong defense so that you are not convicted.


How do you accomplish this?


You must contact an experienced drug crimes lawyer with a track record of success in both federal and state courts. Contact us today for a free consultation.