Top member of El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel FLIPS and gives ‘substantial aid’ to FBI: Smuggler, 60, gets 10 years in prison, but could be free in three years
- Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, a senior leader in the Sinaloa cartel, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison during a trial on Wednesday in Chicago
- The 60-year-old is the only woman to hold a senior position in the cartel co-founded by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
- She was arrested in Culiacán, Mexico in 2016 and then extradited to the United States in 2017
- She pleaded guilty in 2019 conspiracy to traffic in drugs and money laundering conspiracy to coordinate the distribution of drugs to the U.S.
The only woman to ever hold a senior position in Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, has criticized her former bosses and provided “substantial aid” to federal investigators.
Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, 60, was sentenced by a federal court in Chicago to 10 years in prison for her role as a drug smuggler with the infamous cartel — a relatively light sentence in return for her cooperation.
Fernández Valencia burst into tears and pleaded with her family for forgiveness when she was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. district judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago.
“I wish I could find the words to convince you I’m sorry,” the Mexican resident said through an interpreter. “I want to take this opportunity to ask forgiveness from my children and my family.”
Despite the 10-year sentence, Fernández Valencia could be released within three years, due to the time already served and good behaviour.
Meanwhile, the cartel’s former linchpin, El Chapo, is serving a life sentence in Colorado.
Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, the only woman to ever hold a senior position in Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, has criticized her former bosses and given ‘substantial aid’ to federal investigators
Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, co-founder of the Sinaloa cartel, is serving a life sentence in a super-maximum prison in Colorado
Judge Coleman warned that Fernández Valencia’s willingness to cooperate with the federal government could target not only her but her family as well.
Fernández Valencia ventured into the drug trade in 1990 by smuggling drugs from Mexico to the US.
She was arrested in 1998 and spent 10 years in California prison before being released and deported.
But she returned to the cartel as soon as she got back to Mexico.
Fernández Valencia was detained by the Mexican Federal Police in Culiacán, Sinaloa on February 10, 2016, a year after the United States government requested an arrest warrant with the aim of extraditing her.
She was eventually handed over to US federal agents in 2017.
She appeared in a Chicago court on June 27, 2019 and pleaded guilty to one charge of drug smuggling and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
But her sentencing was delayed until this week as she helped the FBI handle cartel investigations.
Guadalupe Fernández Valencia (pictured in police custody in 2016) pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of narcotics trafficking and conspiracy to launder money
Federal investigators said Fernandez Valencia was instrumental in the shipment of 3,500 pounds of marijuana from 2009 to 2010 and was also involved in trafficking nearly 30 pounds of cocaine per week to the Los Angeles area during the same period.
She stopped her drug trafficking activities when her brother, Manuel Fernández Valencia, was arrested in Mexico in 2010.
However, she returned to distributing methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine from 2012 to 2013, and also hired smugglers to bring the drugs from Tijuana, Mexico, to California.
She moved the proceeds of the Sinaloa cartel’s drug trade from Los Angeles to Guadalajara, taking in three percent for the money she moved.
Her brother, Manuel, was sentenced to 27 years in prison in December 2016 for trafficking cocaine for the Sinaloa cartel and rival Beltrán-Leyva organization.
Police officers escort suspected drug trafficker Manuel Fernandez Valencia as he is introduced to the media at the federal police headquarters in Mexico City in 2008