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SAN DIEGO (AP) – A former Mexican lawmaker arrested at the California border was charged Thursday with working for the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose once-powerful kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was extradited to the United States in January.
Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez, a former representative in the Sinaloa state legislature, was charged Thursday in federal court in San Diego with conspiracy to distribute 11 pounds (five kilograms) of cocaine in the United States between January 2013 and January 2017.
She was arrested Wednesday morning trying to enter San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, according to court documents. A Customs and Border Patrol agent at the border crossing discovered her visa had been cancelled by the U.S. State Department and she was suspected of drug trafficking.
The Office of the U.S. Attorney Southern District of California did not immediately respond to messages asking if Sanchez has a lawyer.
The complaint alleges that during a 2012 Homeland Security investigation into the Sinaloa drug cartel, Sanchez was identified as being involved in helping traffic drugs and launder proceeds for Guzman.
Investigators in court documents say she also has been identified as Guzman’s girlfriend by a person cooperating with the investigation.
Guzman is being held in prison in New York and is scheduled to go on trial in April 2018 on charges he oversaw a multibillion-dollar international drug trafficking organization responsible for murders and kidnappings. He has pleaded not guilty. His wife, a former beauty queen, has attended his court proceedings.
Guzman was extradited to the United States after escaping twice from prison in Mexico, including once through a mile-long tunnel stretching from the shower in his cell.