MEXICO CITY — The mother of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has died in the northern state of Sinaloa, a federal official confirmed Monday.
The official was not authorized to speak on the record, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged her death and offered his “respect” to the family.
Often criticized for his frequent trips — about five so far — to the drug lord’s home township of Badiraguato, Sinaloa, López Obrador added in his daily briefing that “any human being who dies deserves respect and consideration for their family.”
Local media reported Loera died at a private hospital in Culiacán, Sinaloa, which is home to the cartel of the same name that her son helped to lead for about two decades before his arrest and extradition to the United States in 2017. The hospital declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
Loera reportedly led a quiet life including frequent religious activities, but she rose to fame after she shook hands with López Obrador during an impromptu meeting on his visit to Badiraguato in 2020. She also won the president’s support for her request in 2019 to get a visa to visit her son, who is serving a life sentence in the United States.
Lopez Obrador said he helped her “like any mother asking me for support for her son.”
In a March 2020 letter, Loera wrote that she was 92 years old at the time, which would have put her current age at 95. In the letter, she pushed for her son to be returned to Mexico to serve out his sentence.
López Obrador has been largely unwilling to speak ill of Mexico’s drug lords and their families, saying they “may have been forced to take the wrong path of anti-social activities because of a lack of opportunities” but were deserving of consideration and respect.
The head of Mexico’s state media agency, Jenaro Villamil, described Loera as “a simple woman from Sinaloa” who always denied publicly that her son led the most powerful drug cartel in Mexico.
Guzmán led the Sinaloa cartel in bloody drug turf battles that claimed the lives of thousands of Mexicans. He escaped twice from Mexican prisons, one time through a mile-long tunnel running from his cell.
After he was extradited to New York, his three-month trial included tales of grisly killings, political payoffs, cocaine hidden in jalapeno cans and jewel-encrusted guns. He was convicted of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation and now is serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in Colorado.
Earlier this year, Mexico extradited one of the drug lord’s sons, Ovidio Guzmán López, to the U.S. to face drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges. He is believed to have led the Sinaloa cartel’s push to produce and export fentanyl to the United States, where it has been blamed for about 70,000 overdose deaths annually.
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