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Did Mexico Really Arrest 'Chapo' Guzman's Daughter?

An alleged photo of Chapo Guzman's daughter An alleged photo of Chapo Guzman's daughter

The detention of a woman claiming to be the daughter of "Chapo" Guzman is sure to reignite interest in the family of the evasive Sinaloa Cartel leader, although there are still plenty of unanswered questions about the case.

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The woman, identified as Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman Salazar, was arrested on October 12 while trying to enter the United States from Tijuana on foot, after US authorities identified a fraudulent visa in her Mexican passport. During questioning, she said she was Guzman’s daughter, an identity that was reportedly confirmed through a check of her fingerprints. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the woman is a medical doctor who is seven months pregnant, and said she was attempting to enter the United States to give birth and meet up with the baby’s father in Los Angeles. A cedula, or an identification card, issued in 2005 to an Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman identifies her as a medical surgeon who studied at the Autonomous University of Guadalaja, apparently confirming the LA Times’ report.

InSight Crime Analysis

Chapo Guzman is believed to have had at least three wives, including former beauty queen Emma Coronel, who gave birth to twins in Los Angeles last year. He had three sons with his first wife and three sons and a daughter, Griselda, with his second wife. There are no previous reports of another daughter, although it is possible she was born out of wedlock. Mexican newspaper El Universal identifies her as a daughter of Chapo’s first wife, Alejandrina Maria Salazar Hernandez.

Casting further doubt on the case are mistaken reports that one of Chapo’s sons was arrested in June this year. It’s possible that the Alejandrina arrest is another case of mistaken identity and over-hasty reporting.

The case is also curious because the daughter of the world’s most wanted drug traffickers would presumably be able to procure better quality false papers. 

However, there is precedent for members of the Guzman clan crossing the US border to give birth, with the case his wife last year. If Alejandrina is really El Chapo’s daughter, this could indicate a “family connection” to southern California, as Eric Olson, associate director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, told the Washington Post.

In addition, Alejandrina Guzman Salazar has reportedly hired San Diego-based criminal defense attorney Jan Ronis to work on her case. Ronis has represented members of the Arellano-Felix family, which makes it seem likely that Guzman Salazar really is a member of El Chapo’s clan, if she has the influence and the cash to contract Ronis.

One question is what kind of intelligence Guzman Salazar will be able to offer US law enforcement. Different members of the Guzman family have varying degrees of involvement in the Sinaloa Cartel's criminal activities. Guzman's first wife and his son Jesus Alfredo were both blacklisted by the US Treasury Department earlier this year. There is also a wide network of cousins, nephews, and in-laws who work for the Sinaloa Cartel -- including a cousin of Guzman's who was sentenced to 21 years in prison in Mexico 2010, and a nephew who was recently gunned down at a family party

Other members of the Guzman family are less involved with Chapo's criminal businesses, including his mother, who reportedly lives peacefully in a country home which her son built for her in rural Sinaloa, as "The Last Narco" author Malcolm Beith has reported.

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