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Lawyers for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman are fighting his extradition by claiming the Mexican drug lord will not get a fair trial in the U.S. because of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
That claim, first reported in the New York Times this weekend, provides a new bizarre twist to the case. The U.S. Justice Department’s is trying to extradite Guzman quickly so he can finally face justices after breaking out of prison twice in Mexico.
The real estate tycoon and reality TV star launched his campaign in June by saying that Mexico sent drug dealer and rapists across the U.S. border illegally and he has hardly let up since. This is evidence, the Sinaloa Cartel’s lawyers have claimed, that America’s image of Guzmán is tainted.
The day after Guzmán escaped from a high-security prison on July 11 by stepping into a mile-long tunnel into the shower in his cell, Trump tweeted, “Mexico's biggest drug lord escapes from jail. Unbelievable corruption and USA is paying the price. I told you so!”
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In the days and weeks that followed, Trump requested Secret Service protection (eventually granted), but he also continued speaking out on the topic, sending out dozens of tweets about Guzmán and border security.
“El Chapo and the Mexican drug cartels use the border unimpeded like it was a vacuum cleaner,” he wrote, “sucking drugs and death right into the U.S.”
That same day, a message threatening Trump was posted on a Twitter account allegedly managed by Guzmán’s son. (It has since been removed.) It read, "Keep f---ing around, and I’ll make you swallow all your words, you blonde milksh---er. @realDonaldTrump.”
In October, a fellow Altiplano inmate told the TeleSur Latin American media network that Guzmán was angry enough at Trump’s announcement speech to place a $100,000 bounty on his head.
"He was mad,” the unnamed con was quoted as saying. “He wants Donald Trump dead and will pay any amount of money to have Donald Trump's head."
The Times says that in August, while Guzman was still on the run, his legal team filed an injunction to prevent the drug lord from being extradited. The team cited the hostile environment in the U.S. toward Mexicans following Trump’s comments as evidence that he wouldn’t get a fair shake north of the border.
After the drug lord was recaptured by Mexican Marines in the early hours of Jan. 8 in the Pacific Coast town of Los Mochis, Trump remained silent on the topic. But after Sean Penn’s interview with the drug lord was published, he told a New Hampshire radio show that it was “sort of amazing the way [Penn] got in there, and all of the people that are looking for [Guzmán] couldn’t find him, and here’s a guy sitting down with a rather long interview.”
Now, the GOP candidate could inadvertently help the drug lord avoid extradition, if a Mexican judge is convinced not to extradite him.