“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

In addition to confessing how the Sinaloa Cartel operated, the letters between the Chapodiputada (Chapo Congresswoman) and the drug lord reveal secrets of crime, bedroom’s and jealousy.

Love and Betrayal: The story behind the letters that sank El Chapo.

In the first days of January 2019, Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López heard loud, clear and well-spelled one name: Kate del Castillo. That day, in front of the jury at the Eastern District Court of New York, in Brooklyn, the former Mexican congresswoman barely tolerated the incisive question:

Did you know that he was interested in Kate, the Mexican soap opera actress?

-Well, actually… he never talked to me about it,” was Sanchez’s answer.

Not only Lucero had to endure hearing names of other women who shared a bed with the man she had loved; also the lady sitting in front of her, the capo’s wife, Emma Coronel, had to tolerate the pitying look on people’s faces as Joaquin El Chapo Guzman’s permanent mistress spoke in court.

During the trial, the two heard the names of other women who did not enjoy the same luxuries and privileges as they did. Cases like that of the 13-year-old girls who were allegedly drugged and abused by the cartel leader.

-In fact, he told you that he wanted to produce some program or movie about his life, correct? And you knew that he was in contact with writers in the United States and other countries to write about his life, correct?

Similar questions posed to Lucero Guadalupe followed one after the other. She, hopelessly, had to publicly acknowledge or deny Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s infidelities.

Drugs, murders and escapes

Judicial documents to which MILENIO had access reveal that Sanchez did not have too much trouble handing over sensitive material about her ex-partner to U.S. agencies, which presumably ended up benefiting her: so far there is no record of the woman being in any U.S. prison.

Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez handed over 6,000 text messages in which the capo himself confessed to drug-related operations, murders and escapes, among other crimes he committed while he was leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The famous “Chapodiputada” – as she was dubbed by the press – was a legislator for the state of Sinaloa. She herself recounted how she managed to win a seat in national politics despite her stormy relationship with Joaquin Loera, whom she wanted to leave on countless occasions — mostly out of fear, she said — but with whom she maintained a relationship until the day of his incarceration in the United States in 2019.

-I wanted to tell you that the packages didn’t fit on the plane, there were 50 kilos left out,” wrote Lucero Guadalupe.

-What was the total my love,” answered El Chapo.

-400 kilos, only 350 fit,” she wrote.

-It was all very well packaged my ove, what’s the total of the packages,” Guzman asked again.

-10 kilos my love. They have the mark of a 4 inside a heart,” explained the woman.

-There’s even a heart there my love,” said Guzman romantically.

-What a thrill,” she said.

For Lucero Guadalupe, these messages, in which messages of love were interspersed with drug transactions, were not unusual. But they could not have happened if the element of trust had not existed on Chapo’s part.

Lucero was born in Cosalá, a town 160 kilometers from the capital of Sinaloa, into a very humble family of mine workers, and during her childhood she collaborated in the family economy and to support herself by selling empanadas in the streets of Culiacán.

At the age of 16 she went to live with a man originally from the Golden Triangle area -which includes the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango-, who like many others there, grew and sold marijuana that they planted in the fields, pushed by the poverty that used to be extreme. During this relationship Lucero experienced violence and was subjected to aggression from her partner.

One of the witnesses against ‘El Chapo’ was Lucero Sanchez, better known as the ‘Chapodiputada’, who said she lived with the drug lord for a year. (EFE)

That changed in 2010, when she met Chapo. A year later, the drug lord, seeing her talent for negotiating with farmers, invited her to negotiate the purchase of marijuana on his behalf in the mountains of Durango and Sinaloa.

If she had to mark the date when she began her relationship with Guzmán Loera, it was in February, the month of love.

She remembers well how it all began: when Guzmán met her, he started sending her messages that later turned into phone calls and, just as he did with Kate del Castillo, he quickly bought her a Blackberry phone to communicate directly without any risk. He kept her on his personal phone with the nickname “Hermosura”(Beautiful); she, with a “J”, for Joaquín.

“We talked about our romantic relationship, things like that. I wanted to have a more stable relationship with him and things of that nature,” Lucero said that January 17, 2019, in the United States. The lovers found a way to see each other more often, her visits to him went from one to three days a week.

Lucero would travel to different parts of the country to meet her lover in residences that served as his hideout, such as the one in Cabo San Lucas, a beige mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean and with a jacuzzi included. El Chapo was only able to stay there for a short time, until a Mexican government operation descended on him.

The former congresswoman remembers it like this: “He had many thorns and scratches, and he told me how his secretary had helped him jump the fence. He had blood on him and he told me what had happened: that he had fallen after jumping the fence and that was when he got scraped because they were hiding in thorny bushes”.

Guzman would send her to the mountains of Sinaloa to meet with peasants she had known since she was young. He had chosen her because the capo knew how she had moved around the highland communities as a child. The motto was for her to acquire “good, nice and cheap” drugs.

Some of the messages that were made public in the court hearing reveal the messages of love and drug transactions that were sent over the course of three years. Lucero would draw messages that were hidden in the squares of marijuana that were sent from the hills to El Chapo.

-The heart signifies that I love you and the four is because I bless the day you came into this world. The day of your birthday ♡ -said one of them. El Chapo, by the way, was born on April 4.

-Ah, yes that’s true. This coming week buy 300 kilos. And with this purchase you’ll have enough for another trip my love – answered El Chapo, visibly less excited than she was, and more interested in the kilos of drugs that she would bring him with the support of a pilot nicknamed Cachimba.

Lucero Sánchez was a militant in the PAN political party of Sinaloa and in 2014 she was elected deputy for the town of Cosalá.

She loved and feared him

During their relationship, the messages came and went with the same tone, between business matters and affectionate expressions.

-Love, look how much is available for you (drugs) to buy everything, but, if necessary, open the bags and check,” Guzman said.

-All right, love,” she replied.

-It’s okay, honey. I love you. Whenever you can, come upstairs to send a message my love,” El Chapo asked her.

Other times, Lucero expressed her fear of going on his behalf to the highlands to buy drugs, but she was not completely opposed because, according to herself, although she was in love with him, he also inspired fear in her.

In one of the hearings, when the ‘Chapodiputada’ was testifying, El Chapo and Coronel decided to dress alike. (EFE)

-People talk too much. I’ve been careful not to be seen, but you see how everyone knows. And you can get hung up somewhere because of envy. I don’t sleep, my love,” she said to the boss.

-Look, the mafia kills people who don’t pay or people who snitch, but if you are serious mob then that’s not the case my love,” Guzman reassured her.

-Well, that’s true, my love. I know that when a person is loyal and straightforward he or she can last for years. He or she can die of natural causes. But there are also the envious people who, just because they want to get someone out of their way, do bad things. But I’m not afraid of that, my love. I have thought about things before. I know I’m not doing anything wrong. On the contrary, I think this is good for people, and more so with you because you have helped the ranches so much. I’m proud and I hold my head up high guided by you, my love.

Deep down, Lucero’s words were a reminder that she was not a snitch and would never rat him out to the government or reveal information about his hideouts. “And I didn’t want him to distrust me because I thought maybe he could hurt me too,” she finally declared.

Lucero Guadalupe said she tried to separate her feelings from her business with Guzmán, but it wasn’t always possible. On the other hand, her lover did. And he was very distrustful. She remembers that when she went to visit him, he would blindfold her so that she could not identify the route.

Lucero Sanchez is known as the ‘Chapodiputada’

-That’s right, my love. Lies are the cause of problems. Don’t lie, and people will always see the good, my love. Always remember that. I tell you this because I love you. Even if you make a mistake, don’t deny it, and you will always be happy and people will appreciate you,” the capo constantly warned her, sweetening his threats with words of love.

During the trial on January 17, 2019, after reading this message and looking directly at Guzmán Loera, the former congresswoman burst into tears. But once she recovered from reading the private messages aloud, Lucero recounted that by June 2012, El Chapo had promoted her in the organization. From then on, she was in charge of overseeing the operation of front companies through which drug operations and money transactions were carried out. These companies were in Mexico City, Los Angeles, California and Ecuador. They were juice and fruit businesses, warehouses and fishmeal.

“I would tell them which institutions they had to go to in order to register the company, how to set up bank accounts, everything related to the legal documentation of the company and its incorporation, in order to establish the basis to be able to start operating,” the woman said during the trial.

But at the same time she became his “wife,” Lucero assured: She did his shopping, chose his clothes, his lotions, everything that had to do with his personal care.

“I was like a house wife. She would cut the legs off his pants because they were a little long, so she had to adjust them back to his own height.”

The former congresswoman recalls that the dynamics of the relationship started to go downhill in late 2012, until it became untenable. So much so that she decided to get into politics and join the National Action Party (PAN) in Sinaloa. In 2014 she was elected deputy for Cosalá, her hometown, in District Number 16 of the northern state. And she won with many votes in her favor.

But El Chapo would not leave her alone. He called her insistently, asking her to visit him in his new hideout in Culiacan.

Lucero also narrated direct experiences with the drug trafficker. Like one instance that took place in 2014.

“You know, after we stayed up, we were talking for hours, he and I, and after that I couldn’t sleep,” Lucero Guadalupe recounted profusely, “I was awake around three or four in the morning when I started to hear some loud noises at the outside door. I heard a lot of banging and helicopters, screams. I heard Condor (an employee) come in and say, ‘Uncle, Uncle, upstairs, they’re onto us, they’re onto us.’ And I was very scared. I was in shock that day. They were running all over the place and then I saw him come into the bathroom with Condor and the maid and he said, ‘My love, come, come with me, come here.'”

At trial Lucero added another moment from that scene: “What happened was that there was like a lid on the bathtub that went up, and I was like, ‘How, should I go in there?’ I was really scared because it was dark and everybody was going in there. Well, the first thing I saw was wooden steps and then the next thing, all I could see was complete darkness. For me it was horrible because I had never been in a place like that. It was a wet place, full of water, with mud. He ran out first and left us behind, I kept feeling the sides of the tunnel so I could get through the darkness and know where to go. Well, we came out to an area, it was like a river, I think it was the Humaya River.”

The capo would be arrested a few days later, on February 22, 2014, during an operation carried out at number 608-A on Mazatlan’s boardwalk, in a condominium of towers and apartments facing the sea.

Holy God, it’s him: DEA agent narrates arrest of ‘El Chapo’.

Lucero also acknowledged that with the capture came the interrogations of Chapo’s mob. Dámaso López Núñez, El Licenciado, questioned her to find out what her reaction had been and if she had anything to do with the capture of their boss.

That’s why Lucero didn’t dare refuse to go when El Chapo sent for her through his lawyer, Manuel Osuna, to visit him in September 2014. The drug lord had not lost the habit of sending letters from the maximum security prison. He entertained himself.

“To my queen who is a sweetheart. I hope you are well, my best wishes are for our family and our children. I was very happy to receive your letter my love and when I read it I was very ecstatic to hear that our son is going well, what a joy, don’t stop taking care of yourself. Living without you is a lot of helplessness. To live without your words is a lot of loneliness,” wrote Guzman, who mysteriously alluded to shared “children”.

Lucero ended up visiting him in prison, but she did so under a false name and altered identification. Nonetheless, the fact was scandalous and the news quickly spread. Already by April 2015 she began to be called the “Chapodiputada,” and in September 2016 she was removed from her post as a local legislator.

“She was afraid of her enemies and afraid of being attacked, because the truth days after this came out I started receiving death threats from the enemies of the Lord (Chapo),” stated the former legislator.

On July 21, 2017, Lucero Guadalupe arrived in the city of Tijuana on a flight that departed from Sinaloa. Her intention was to escape Guzmán’s enemies. The woman attempted to cross into San Diego, California, through the Cross Border Xpress international crossing, located at the border city’s airport. It was a terrible moment for her: a U.S. immigration officer took her documents to check them. It took her several minutes that seemed like an eternity.

When she realized they were running her name through a database, she tried to flee to the Mexican side. But it was too late, they already knew who she was. The immigration agents caught up with her and tackled her like in a football game. She was badly hurt.

Arrest of ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán

She was first transferred to a detention center in San Diego, then taken to Washington, D.C., where she began facing trial for collusion with El Chapo Guzmán. However, the extradition of her lover to the United States benefited her, because in January 2019 she became one of the most important witnesses against him, she testified in great detail about the escape in Culiacán, how drug purchases were made in the Golden Triangle, in addition to revealing important names of Chapo’s accomplices.

After her cooperation, her identification number no longer appears in any U.S. prison. According to the Bureau of Prisons, she is no longer in their custody, she simply disappeared without a trace.

However, information revealed in El Chapo’s trial documents could provide a clue as to the woman’s whereabouts: it was revealed that, in exchange for her cooperation, the government promised her a recommendation to the judge to be lenient in sentencing her, as well as guaranteed benefits for her entire family.

Even so, Lucero’s life has been marked by tragedy: in 2014, her ex-husband Rubén Chávez was kidnapped and murdered in Cosalá, Sinaloa. A few days earlier, her sister María Carolina had been murdered. The authorities linked it to a crime of passion.

Today it is not known where Lucero Guadalupe was transferred to, if she received years of sentence or even if she really had a child or more with the capo. For now, all that remains are the messages of love and the facts of betrayal.