He is the world's most-wanted criminal, with a $5m £3.2m) price tag on his head, a private army at his disposal, and many tens of thousands of deaths on his conscience. Now Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman, the ruthless leader of Mexico's pre-eminent drug cartel, has acquired something that neither money nor extreme violence can acquire: a pair of all-American "anchor babies".
Emma Coronel, 54-year-old Guzman's 22-year-old wife, travelled to southern California earlier this summer to take advantage of the excellent maternity facilities available to clients of a well-regarded private hospital.
Birth records reveal that she gave birth to the billionaire drug baron's twin daughters at Antelope Valley hospital in Lancaster on 15 August. Since they were born on US soil, both are now constitutionally recognised as American citizens.
The Los Angeles Times, which yesterday tracked down their birth certificates, said that Ms Coronel cannily left a blank space in the section entitled: "name of father". It is not known whether she paid for the treatment in cash. Citing patient confidentiality, the hospital refused to comment about whether doctors were aware of her identity.
The newspaper reported that FBI agents "kept tabs" on Ms Coronel, a former beauty queen from central Mexico, who also boasts US citizenship, throughout her visit. But they did not seek to detain her since she is not wanted for any crimes.
Although she might have been able to shed some light on her husband's whereabouts, that information would have been of limited use: finding Guzman is considered relatively straightforward. The problem, for Mexico's authorities, is bringing him into custody.
The leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, which controls a large portion of the $38-bn-a-year cocaine trade with the US, stays mostly in mountainous locations, and surrounds himself with huge numbers of heavily-armed foot soldiers.
He has been arrested before, in the early 1990s, but escaped prison in 2001 by bribing guards to smuggle him out in a laundry basket. Called "el Chapo" ("shorty") because of his diminutive stature, Guzman is believed to have wooed Coronel after spying her at a local "Miss Coffee and Guava" beauty contest in 2007. He ensured that she was crowned "queen" of the pageant, and then married her several months later, in a lavish ceremony staged the day after she turned 18.Reuse content