Convicted Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was transferred early Saturday to a federal prison near the US border, the National Security Commission (CNS) announced.
The leader of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel was moved from the maximum security Altiplano prison in central Mexico to a facility in Ciudad Juarez, a town in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua that sits across the border from the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas.
Guzman had been remanded to Altiplano Jan. 8, after being recaptured in Los Mochis, in northeast Sinaloa state.
According to officials, Guzman was transferred at 1:30 a.m. local time, and flown to Ciudad Juarez in the custody of military and federal agents.
After landing, a handcuffed Guzman boarded a helicopter belonging to the Federal Police and flown to the prison, around which more than 100 federal and military agents were stationed.
Juan Pablo Badillo, a lawyer on Guzman's defense team, told Xinhua authorities did not previously inform them of the transfer and that he had no idea why he was moved.
"I was surprised, I didn't expect a situation of this magnitude," the lawyer said via telephone.
Local media reported "El Chapo" was moved closer to the border for his eventual extradition to the United States, where he is wanted on drug trafficking charges.
Badillo said the move would be illegal as Guzman's defense team has been working to fight extradition proceedings.
"El Chapo" first broke out of a Mexican prison in 2001. He was recaptured in 2014, only to escape the Altiplano prison the following year through a tunnel dug to the floor of the shower stall in his cell.