The extradition of Mexican drug cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States could take at least a year, Mexican legal authorities said Monday.
"We have had proceedings that have lasted four, six years, depending on the appeals the defence pursues," Jose Manuel Merino, head of the international affairs for the Mexican attorney general's office, told Radio station Formula.
Mexican authorities officially set extradition procedures into motion two days after the recapture of El Chapo. Mexican Interpol issued warrants at the high security prison El Altiplano, spelling out the goal of Guzman's extradition to the US.
There are two warrants for Guzman in the US: one in the state of California and another from Texas. US authorities have charged the Sinaloa cartel head with murder, drug trafficking, criminal association and money laundering, among other charges.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency had offered a reward of 5 million dollars for Guzman.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, commending Mexican authorities for their success in capturing Guzman, noted that he faced "serious charges" in the US.
Earnest added that "the standard operating procedure is that if there is an individual who is facing charges in the United States that is arrested overseas, then the extradition process commences."
Guzman was recaptured Friday six months after his brazen escape from prison through a series of tunnels. Mexican marines engaged in a shootout with Guzman's bodyguards in the Pacific coast town of Los Mochis before apprehending the world's most powerful drug trafficker.
Guzman can now lodge an appeal against extradition. The matter must be considered by both the courts and the Foreign Ministry, with the Mexican government getting the final word.