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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is expected to appear in a court in New York on Friday, a day after his surprise extradition from Mexico ended a decades-long criminal career that included daredevil prison breaks and murder.
A Justice Department spokesman said El Chapo (Shorty in English), once one of the world’s most wanted drug lords, was set to be arraigned at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) in federal court in Brooklyn.
Guzman, 59, arrived in a small jet at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport after nightfall on Thursday from a prison in the city of Juarez in the northern state of Chihuahua, where his Sinaloa cartel rules.
A few hours earlier, he was bundled out of the Mexican cell block with his hands cuffed above his bowed head, Mexican television footage showed.
Guzman is charged in six separate U.S. indictments. He is accused of money laundering and drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder in Chicago, Miami, New York and other cities.
Mexico’s court authority said he would be tried in California and Texas, raising the prospect he will appear in courts in the border towns of San Diego and El Paso, which have indictments against him.
Guzman faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison if convicted, according to court papers filed by U.S. prosecutors early Friday. A judge was asked to ensure his detention before trial.
Calling him “the most notorious drug trafficker in the world,” prosecutors said Guzman “vigorously fought his extradition to the United States up until the moment” that it was ordered on Thursday.
Robert Capers, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will hold a news conference in Brooklyn, New York, about the case at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).
El Chapo was captured a year ago after he had fled a high-security penitentiary in central Mexico through a mile-long tunnel, his second dramatic prison escape.
Leading the Sinaloa cartel, he oversaw perhaps the world’s largest transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation, playing a key role in Mexico’s decade-long drug war that has killed over 100,000.
“Guzman and the Sinaloa cartel had a veritable army, ready to war with competitors and anyone Guzman deemed to be a traitor,” U.S. prosecutors said. He was known to carry a gold-plated AK-47 rifle.
The extradition came on the eve of Donald Trump’s swearing-in, a coincidence that some officials said was an olive branch to the incoming president who declared he would kick Guzman’s “ass” on taking office.
The Mexican attorney general’s office rejected claims the move was related to Trump’s inauguration, noting that El Chapo faces 10 pending cases in Mexico following his U.S. sentence.
One of Guzman’s lawyers said he was surprised at the extradition and said four appeals were outstanding to stop it.
(Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Jeffrey Benkoe)