Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, newly arrived in the United States, pleaded not guilty to numerous criminal charges in New York on Friday.
Guzman was extradited from Mexico Thursday to face 17 criminal charges related to his drug empire — including corruption, murder, conspiracy, drug importation and money laundering.
On Friday, the Sinaloa cartel leader pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could put him away for life.
The accused drug overlord communicated through an interpreter in his court appearance, telling the judge that he understood the charges against him.
Mexican authorities previously opposed extraditing Guzman, 59, to the United States unless the U.S. Department of Justice assured he would not face the death penalty, as Mexico opposes capital punishment.
“Who is Chapo Guzmán?” U.S. Attorney Robert Capers of the Eastern District of New York said during a Friday news conference. “In short, he is a man who has known no other life than one of crime, violence, death and destruction.”
Capers said federal authorities would also seek a criminal forfeiture of $14 billion against Guzman’s massive illicitly built empire, linked to massive properties, luxury yachts, expensive vehicles, etc.
The Justice Department opted to prosecute Guzmán in Brooklyn first. He also faces charges in six other federal districts including California and Florida.
“El Chapo” — meaning “The Short One” or “shorty” — so dubbed because of his 5-foot-6-inch frame, was first captured in Guatemala in 1993. He has twice escaped from prison since his initial capture.