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'El Chapo' drug empire's alleged financial operator arrested in Mexico

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Feb. 10, 2016 at 1:43 PM

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Mexican Federal Police arrested Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, the alleged financial operator of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel.

Fernández Valencia, who was arrested Tuesday, is accused of entering the drug business in 1990 by smuggling drugs into the United States, where she was arrested in 1998. Once released from a California prison, she allegedly continued her illicit activities by smuggling large quantities of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States to take the profits back to Mexico.

Mexican Federal Police said that in March 2015, the U.S. government asked Mexico to issue an arrest warrant with the purpose of extradition -- citing alleged collaboration in drug trafficking and money laundering between Fernández Valencia and Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel. The U.S. Department of Treasury later froze her accounts and assets, and prohibited businesses and individuals from doing business with her.

"Guadalupe Fernández will be admitted to the Federal Social Rehabilitation Center to be made available to required judicial authority," Mexican Federal Police said in a statement.

Guzman was captured in the city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa on Jan. 8 after escaping from Mexico's Altiplano Federal Prison on July 11.

Guzma's Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in nearly the entire United States, according to a recent report by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The report states the criminal organization is most powerful "along the West Coast, through the Midwest, and into the Northeast."

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