SAN DIEGO – A Mexican former state lawmaker linked to erstwhile Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman was arrested by United States immigration officials while trying to cross the border, a member of her legal team told EFE on Thursday.
Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez tried on Wednesday to reach the US via a pedestrian bridge that runs from the Tijuana International Airport to the Cross Border Xpress terminal, located in San Diego, California.
Days ago, the ex-lawmaker from the western Mexican state of Sinaloa said she had received threats from criminal gangs and planned to seek political asylum in the US for herself and her children.
But attorney Rosalba Alarcon said she and the other members of Sanchez’s legal team do not know what prompted her to try to cross the border on her own account.
She arrived at the international border crossing at around 10 am, but it was not until after 6 pm that US authorities notified her that she was under arrest.
The former lawmaker, who faces criminal conspiracy charges in the US, is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego and is expected to be assigned a public defender before appearing before a Southern California judge.
Thus far, no details have been provided by the US Customs and Border Protection or prosecutors concerning her arrest.
Sanchez is under investigation in Mexico for allegedly using false identification to visit Guzman in September 2014 at the Altiplano maximum security federal prison in the central state of Mexico.
Congress last year removed her immunity so she could be prosecuted in that case, and Mexican media reports say she had been barred from leaving the country.
Guzman escaped from the Altiplano prison in July 2015 through a lengthy tunnel dug to his cell but was recaptured a few months later in Sinaloa and subsequently extradited to the US.
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 tracked down 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 and the kingpin’s wealth led to his name regularly appearing on Forbes magazine’s list of global billionaires.