El Chapo’s top female leader and the financial mastermind behind his infamous cartel faces life in prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering
- Guadalupe Fernández Valencia is alleged to have been the highest-ranking woman in El Chapo’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel
- On Wedneday, she pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and money laundering in a Chicago courtroom
- Valencia, 59, is believed to have reported directly to El Chapo’s son, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar
- She helped to coordinate vast shipments of drugs into the US over, earning the Sinaloa Cartel billions of dollars
- Valencia faces life in prison, but prosecutors have recommended a drastically reduced sentence should she cooperate in other cartel investigations
Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of narcotics trafficking and one count of money laundering conspiracy in a federal court on Wednesday
The woman thought to be the financial mastermind behind El Chapo’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel has pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, 59, entered the two guilty pleas in a Chicago courtroom on Wednesday – almost two years after she was extradited to the United States from Mexico.
While Valencia now faces the possibility of life behind bars, prosecutors have recommended she serve between 10 and 15 years in exchange for her cooperation in other cartel investigations.
A district judge has said he will delay Valencia’s sentencing until she demonstrates such cooperation.
During Valencia’s trial, investigators alleged that the Sinaloa Cartel used planes, submarines, trucks and tunnels in order to smuggle billions of dollars worth of drugs into the US.
Valencia is said to have played a powerful hand in getting the drugs across the border, before funds were then laundered back to Mexico.
The mother-of-five is believed to have reported directly to El Chapo’s son, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar
Valencia was arrested in Mexico in February 2016 (pictured) and extradited to the United States in November 2017
Valencia is thought to be the financial mastermind behind the infamous Sinaloa Cartel, spearheaded by El Chapo. He is pictured center after being extradited to the US in 2017
An assistant attorney told the court that Valencia helped transport 3,500 pounds of marijuana into the US in 2009 and 2010.
At the same time she allegedly helped smuggle 30 kilograms of cocaine into the country every single week.
El Chapo was convicted in February of running a criminal enterprise, among other narcotic-related charges. He is pictured in a 2015 mugshot
Later, between 2012 and 2014, Valencia is said to have assisted her brother, Manuel, in the transportation of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine across the US – Mexico border.
Manuel was arrested shortly after and was sentenced to 27 years in an Illinois prison in 2016. .
The same year Valencia was finally arrested in Culiacan – a city in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa.
She was extradited to the Chicago for trial in November 2017.
Valencia fell in the crosshairs of the US government well before the Mexican federal police apprehended her, as she was placed in the notorious ‘kingpin’ list.
Meanwhile, El Chapo was convicted in February of running a criminal enterprise, among other narcotic-related charges.
He remains in custody in a federal prison in Manhattan, New York, and is due to be formally sentenced next month.
Valencia (bottom left) fell in the crosshairs of the US government well before the Mexican federal police apprehended her, as she was placed in the notorious ‘kingpin’ list.