Latin America & Caribbean

'El Chapo' Mexico: Regional lawmaker quizzed over 'jail visit'

An undated picture shows member of congress of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, Lucero Sanchez, in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police want to talk to Lucero Sanchez about her alleged meeting in jail with "El Chapo" Guzman

Police in Mexico are questioning a regional politician about her alleged links to recently recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, 26, is a representative in Sinaloa, northern Mexico, where Guzman has his powerbase.

Officials said they wanted to know about an alleged visit she made to Guzman prior to his jailbreak.

She denies the allegations and accuses the government of turning the arrest of Guzman into a "media show".

Guzman was re-arrested on 8 January after six months on the run.

The attorney general's office said federal police officers had taken Ms Sanchez to the capital, Mexico City.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Guzman is being held at Altiplano jail, the same prison he escaped from last year

In a statement, the office said she would be questioned over an alleged visit she made to Guzman in jail under a false identity.

Officials said that in 2014 she had shown guards false papers to see Guzman at the Altiplano maximum-security prison, where he was being held prior to his escape in July 2015.

She has not been charged with any crime and has not been stripped of her post as congresswoman, the statement adds.

New Year's Eve party?

On Tuesday, Attorney General Arely Gomez told Mexican newspaper El Universal that Ms Sanchez and Guzman had spent New Year's Eve together.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Guzman was recaptured on 8 January after his second escape from a maximum-security jail

At the time, the leader of the Sinaloa drugs cartel was on the run following his escape from Altiplano prison through a 1.5km-long (one-mile-long) tunnel.

He was captured in Los Mochis, a town in Sinaloa state, on 8 January.

According to local media, Ms Sanchez is the youngest person to have been elected as a state representative.

Mexican daily El Universal reports that she ran an election campaign characterised by lavish rallies at which bands entertained voters and gifts were handed out.

Local media have also alleged that Ms Sanchez, whose ex-husband was shot dead in 2014, has had at least one child with Guzman.

She has denied having a relationship with the drug lord.

Taster dog

While there is little official information about Guzman's family, those who have followed his criminal career believe he has 18 children with seven different women.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Guzman's most recent crush was on actress Kate del Castillo, according to Mexican officials

A prison official, Eduardo Guerrero, said that Emma Coronel, a former beauty queen who had twin girls with Guzman, was prevented from visiting the drug lord on Saturday because she could not provide the right papers.

Mr Guerrero said Ms Coronel could not present proof that she had been married to Guzman since 2007, as she insisted.

According to Mr Guerrero, Guzman "will have to give us a divorce certificate [from his previous marriage] and then he has to demonstrate the common-law marriage" in order to be allowed to see Ms Coronel.

Mr Guerrero added that security had been ramped up at the Altiplano jail to prevent Guzman from escaping again, including training dogs to detect his scent.

He also said that any food given to Guzman was first tasted by a dog, to prevent the inmate from being poisoned.

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