[JURIST] Mexican officials are willing to begin extraditing suspected drug lords held in Mexican custody to the US to face drug charges, Mexican President Vicente Fox [official website; BBC profile] said Tuesday at a press conference in New York. On Monday, alleged cartel mastermind Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix [Wikipedia profile], who was the first major accused drug dealer to be extradited from Mexico, pleaded not guilty to cocaine distribution charges [AP report]. The US has reportedly requested the extradition of at least three other alleged kingpins.
Felix was extradited to US custody over the weekend after Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] signed off on the prisoner transfer, two years after the extradition was approved by a Mexican judge. In November 2005, The Supreme Court of Mexico [official website] ruled that prisoners serving life sentences can be extradited abroad [JURIST report], overturning a 2001 decision [EscapingJustice.com backgrounder] that prevented such prisoners from answering to charges in the US insofar as punishment there might be cruel and unusual and not directed at rehabilitation of the prisoner. A 1978 treaty between the US and Mexico still prevents the extradition of prisoners who face the death penalty. AP has more.