El Chapo: Mexico's Sinaloa cartel leader 'snuck into US twice' while on the run

Cartel leader's daughter says he came into the US to visit family while being hunted by authorities

Harriet Sinclair
Saturday 05 March 2016 17:19
Drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is escorted into a helicopter following his recapture
Drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is escorted into a helicopter following his recapture

The daughter of the jailed Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman evaded authorities to sneak into the US on two occasions while on the run last year.

Rosa Isela Guzmán Ortiz, 39, claimed her father managed to enter southern California and visit her at her five-bedroom house in a location she refused to disclose, allegedly paying off Mexican officials to get out of the country.

“All I know is that my dad told his lawyer to deliver some checks to [a politician’s] campaign, and asked that he respect him,” Ms Ortiz told the Guardian.

She did not share any details about how he made it past US border police, and his alleged visits to the US have not been verified by US or Mexican officials – although Mexican former president Felipe Calderon did say at the time of El Chapo’s disappearance that he suspected he had left the central American country and was ‘north of the border’.

The leader of the Sinaloa cartel escaped from Altiplano prison near Mexico City in July 2015 and was on the run for almost seven months before being captured in January 2016 and returned to the same prison.

His escape, through a tunnel he dug out of Altiplano, put El Chapo back at the top of the US and Mexico’s most wanted list, and made headlines around the world – particularly as it was the second jailbreak for the cartel leader.

El Chapo had previously escaped from a federal maximum security prison in Jalisco, Mexico in 2001, having been sentence in 1993 to 20 years in prison, only being recaptured in 2014.

The 61-year-old is currently awaiting extradition to the US on charges of drug trafficking and murder, reportedly requesting to his lawyer that the extradition process be sped up so he can enjoy ‘better conditions’ in a US prison.

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