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El Chapo Guzmán’s mother dies in Sinaloa

Consuelo Loera López has died in a Cualiacán hospital, according to local media reports. She was 94 years old

Chapo Guzmán’s mother
Consuelo Loera, mother of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, sits in a car while waiting to go to the United States Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico, on Saturday, June 1, 2019.Ginnette Riquelme (AP)
Pablo Ferri

Consuelo Loera López, the mother of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, one of the biggest drug traffickers in the history of Mexico, has died. She was 94 years old. The news was reported by local media on Sunday, which cited information from authorities in Sinaloa, the family’s state of origin. Loera López was in the news in recent years after greeting Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on one of his trips to the region.

Loera López has always lived in La Tuna, a community in the municipality of Badiraguato, in the mountains of Sinaloa. The community is the birthplace of El Chapo Guzmán, the historical leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, along with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and the Beltrán Leyva brothers. Despite the reported power of the Sinaloa Cartel, life was not always easy for El Chapo’s mother. In 2016, criminals attacked her home in La Tuna, an assault that killed between eight and 12 people.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador greets Consuelo Loera.

Loera López is presented in Mexico’s media as a folkloric icon, the family symbol of a criminal industry. As an elderly woman, she met López Obrador on one of his trips to the region. In 2020, the president acknowledged that El Chapo’s mother had given him a letter. “I went to see her, because she is an older woman, and I greeted her,” said López Obrador. “She gave me the letter and told me, ‘they don’t allow my daughters to visit their brother [El Chapo] in prison. I want to ask you to see if you can help us so that they can go visit him, I can’t go see him anymore,’” the president recounted.

When criticized for his closeness to the cartel leader’s mother, López Obrador tried to explain himself. “The letter was so private and secret that I gave it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that they could send it to the United States ambassador,” he said. “Then they responded from the embassy that they were going to give one of Guzmán Loera’s sisters the opportunity to go see him, in other words, it was procedural.”

El Chapo Guzmán has been imprisoned in the United States since January 2017. His arrest and subsequent extradition are part of the history of Mexico’s underworld. First apprehended in the early 1990s, he escaped from prison in 2001 in controversial circumstances. The official explanation is that he hid in a laundry cart. But it has always been rumored that federal police officers took him out of prison, disguised as one of them.

This hypothesis has gained weight over the years, due to the accusation and subsequent conviction of Genaro García Luna, who was the head of the Federal Police during the administration of Felipe Calderón (2006-1012). The United States justice system accused García Luna of conspiring to introduce drugs into the country, in collusion with the Sinaloa criminal cartel.

The second capture of El Chapo Guzmán came during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), at the beginning of 2014. Authorities locked him up in the El Altiplano federal prison, but he escaped a year and a half later. His henchmen managed to dig a tunnel from the floor of his cell to an abandoned home, hundreds of meters away from the prison. El Chapo lived on the run for months, until his last arrest, in January 2016, in a hotel in Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

His subsequent extradition to the United States closed a chapter in Mexico. By then, Mexico was suffering a crisis of colossal proportions, with drug violence wreaking havoc across the country, a situation that persists to this day. Fighting between Sinaloa’s criminal groups and cartels from other states, coupled with the disbanding of the Beltrán Leyva brothers’ branch, has plunged the country into a state of narco terror.

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