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El Chapo's appeal against extradition denied by Mexican judge

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman in a Jan. 8, 2016 image released by Mexico's federal government.

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman in a Jan. 8, 2016 image released by Mexico's federal government.

A federal judge ruled against five appeals by convicted drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán in his legal battle to avoid extradition to the United States, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said Thursday, but he can still appeal to higher courts.

In a statement, the office said the judge denied two of Guzmán's appeals and threw out the other three. Guzmán's lawyers did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said last week that Guzmán could be extradited in January or February. He is wanted on drug trafficking and other charges in the United States.

The leader of the Sinaloa Cartel has twice escaped from maximum-security prisons in Mexico, most recently in 2015. He was recaptured in January and is currently imprisoned in the northern border state of Chihuahua.

There are two pending extradition requests for Guzmán from federal courts in Texas and California, and there are a total of six cases against him across the United States.

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His lawyers have 10 days to ask a higher court to review the decision and are expected to take the case all the way to Mexico's Supreme Court, said a federal official involved in the process who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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