EFEMexico City

A judge in this capital approved on Thursday the extradition of drug lord Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman to the United States, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said.

The head of Guzman's defense team, Andres Granados, told EFE that the Sinaloa cartel boss will appeal to another court, extending the process "another three months, four months ... a year."

If the second court rules against Guzman, he will ask the Mexican Supreme Court to take up the case, the attorney said, adding that his client may even bring the matter before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The head of Mexico's National Security Commission, Renato Sales, said last Friday that Guzman could be extradited as soon as January or February 2017.

The magistrate in Mexico City ruled on five habeas corpus motions submitted by Chapo's lawyers, the AG Office said in a statement.

Granados, however, said that only two of the motions directly addressed the question of extradition, while the other three pertained to the conditions of Guzman's incarceration.

Guzman, held since May at a prison in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, faces cocaine trafficking charges in California and cocaine trafficking, criminal conspiracy, money laundering and arms charges in Texas.

Chapo was transferred to the prison in Juarez from the Altiplano maximum-security prison in central Mexico.

The cartel chief escaped from Altiplano on July 11, 2015, through a mile-long tunnel dug to his cell.

He had earlier broken out of a prison in the western state of Jalisco in 2001 and spent more than 13 years on the run before being recaptured on Feb. 22, 2014, in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan.

Guzman's criminal organization rose to become one of the main sources of illicit drugs entering the United States.

The Mexican kingpin's wealth led to his name regularly appearing on Forbes magazine's list of global billionaires.