el chapo guzman mexico.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MARIO GUZMAN

Mexico wants to deliver drug cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States by January or February, Mexican National Security Commissioner Renato Sales Heredia told broadcaster Televisa on Friday.

US charges against "El Chapo" - Mexican slang for Shorty - include murder, drug trafficking, and money laundering. The Mexican Foreign Ministry approved his extradition in May.

The leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel is behind bars at a high-security prison in Ciudad Juarez, near the US border.

Guzman was recaptured in January after escaping last year from prison via a series of tunnels. He had previously been a fugitive following an earlier prison break more than a decade ago.

Known as the world's most powerful drug trafficker, Guzman is pursuing a two-track strategy for his defence.

While his attorneys attempt to block extradition, they are also exploring possible cooperation with US prosecutors - a prospect that is believed to be unnerving to some circles among traffickers, government officials and politicians.

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