El Chapo's former mistress testifies against him

She said that once, while they were having dinner in 2012, Guzmán told her that anyone who betrayed him would die

El Chapo's former mistress testifies against him
Lucero Sánchez López, the former mistress - Photo: Rashide Frías/EL UNIVERSAL
English 20/01/2019 12:32 Reuters New York Brendan Pierson, Daina Beth Solomon Actualizada 12:32
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A former mistress of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán told jurors during his U.S. trial that she was “traumatized” after a harrowing 2014 escape from one of his safe houses with Mexican marines in hot pursuit.

Lucero Sánchez López, a onetime local lawmaker in Guzmán’s home state of Sinaloa, gave an emotional account of her relationship with Guzmán, saying she feared for her safety.

“I didn’t want for him to mistrust me because I thought he could also hurt me,” Lucero Sánchez López, 29, testified. “I was confused about my own feelings over him. Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I didn’t.”

She said that once, while the two were having dinner in 2012, Guzmán told her that anyone who betrayed him would die.

Guzmán, 61, who was extradited to the United States in 2017, has been on trial since November on charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the country as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The testimony by Sánchez López is the first by someone with whom Guzmán had a romantic relationship. Other cooperating witnesses have been business associates, mainly other drug traffickers.

Sánchez served in Sinaloa’s state Congress from 2013 to 2016, when she was investigated for having filed false documents to visit Guzmán in jail in 2014.

Sánchez was arrested in June 2017 on U.S. drug charges while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. She pleaded guilty last October and is now cooperating with prosecutors.

She said her romantic relationship with Guzmán began in early 2011, and that she began working for him shortly afterwards, although he never paid her. She described how he sent her to Mexico’s “Golden Triangle”, a fertile drug-producing region that includes part of Sinaloa, to buy marijuana and send it back to him on planes.

Sánchez said the relationship frayed in late 2012 but she continued to see Guzmán occasionally. She said she was with him in February 2014 when a team of Mexican marines stormed his safe house in Culiacán in the middle of the night.

Guzmán, she said, led her into the master bathroom, where the bathtub lifted to reveal wooden steps leading underground.

“It was very dark and I was very scared,” Sánchez said.

She said she followed Guzmán, who was completely naked, through a tunnel leading away from the house, feeling water against her legs. When a prosecutor asked her how long she was there, she guessed more than an hour: “enough to traumatize me.”

Sánchez’ testimony followed an account of the same escape from the perspective of a U.S Drug Enforcement Administration agent working with the marines who stormed the safe house.

Although Guzmán escaped from the house, the DEA’s Víctor Vázquez told jurors that he was captured several days later in a beachfront hotel in nearby Mazatlán.

Vázquez said knowledge of the 2014 capture operation was restricted to the team of marines, for fear of corruption among Mexican law enforcement.

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