'El Chapo' extradition could bring him to Chicago

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Chicago is the only jurisdiction where an El Chapo indictment is based on undercover recordings of him. allegedly discussing the cartel. (WLS)

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman faces federal charges in Illinois and five other states, and some legal observers say the strongest case is in Chicago.

However, there are other possibilities and factors that may come into play to determine where El Chapo will face a judge and be tried.

El Chapo was nabbed after a ferocious firefight early Friday after Mexico troopers raided a seaside home where he was hiding.

Now, Mexican justice officials said they've already begun extradition proceedings to send the billionaire drug lord to U.S., where he faces murder, cocaine, heroin and conspiracy charges in several different federal jurisdictions including Chicago and two different districts of New York.

"What happens is the justice department makes the decision based on where are the facts strongest, where can we bring our best case, where are the witnesses are located, what prosecutors are best able to bring this kind of action," said Gil Soffer, a former federal prosecutor and ABC7 legal analyst.

Soffer said prosecutors could select just one venue and consolidate the evidence to establish the existence of a nationwide drug trafficking organization led by El Chapo.

A consolidated case was what happened for infamous Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

The Unabomber and El Chapo cases are similar.

Both men were subjects of worldwide manhunts, caught after long criminal careers, and most significantly, committed crimes in numerous cities across the United States.

Kaczynski killed and maimed people with bombs during 18 years beginning in 1978, from Chicago and New Jersey to Utah and California.

He was charged in a consolidated case in Sacramento, Calif., and pleaded guilty in exchange for no death penalty.

Chances are that El Chapo could be tried in Chicago because Chicago is the only jurisdiction where an El Chapo indictment is based on undercover recordings of him allegedly discussing the Sinaloa Cartel.

If not the case, the Chicago evidence would play a primary role in a case prosecuted elsewhere.

The decision will be made by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was previously a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y. -- one of the districts where El Chapo is under indictment. Her link could possibly giving New York the inside track on getting the case.

San Diego has the oldest open case, dating back to 1995, where older evidence and witnesses make it a longshot.

Texas has the most recent case, but they do not have undercover tapes or insider witnesses like the Chicago case.
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