TUCSON, Ariz. -- The rumors started early Monday morning and they would have been easy to dismiss if it weren’t for the level of detail: Alejandrina Gisselle Guzmán Salazar, a 31-year-old woman, had wandered into the San Ysidro port of entry with a fake passport early Friday afternoon. She had intended to head up to Los Angeles to give birth, she told Customs and Border Protection officers. Oh, and she is the daughter of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.
That gave everyone pause. There’s some excitement within the American law enforcement community but there is so much suspect about the case, right now. Let’s start with family connections:
Chapo Guzmán reportedly has three sons from his first wife. In the 1980s, a second wife gave birth to three more sons and a daughter, Griselda Guadalupe. In 2007, he married a third time, this time a beauty queen who holds U.S. citizenship. She gave birth in an L.A. hospital to twin girls. So that’s nine kids, total.
Breaking it down:
First wife: Alejandrina María Salazar Hernández (first name and maternal last name match the woman at the port of entry)
Second wife: Griselda López Pérez (no match)
Third wife: Emma Coronel Aispuro (no match and she was about 18 when he married her, meaning she’s at least eight years younger than the woman in custody)
Granted, we are talking about the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel; sexual relations out of wedlock may not matter to El Chapo.
It’s quite likely Customs and Border Protection would never even have known who she was. She actually volunteered to the officers that Dad was El Chapo. They have no way of proving it yet.
And even if she is, there’s nothing illegal about being the offspring of a Mexican druglord. The U.S. charging papers simply state: “The CBP officer inspected the non-immigrant visa given to him by Defendant and recognized it to be counterfeit.”
But she may have a cartel figure’s resources: Guzmán Salazar hired a notorious cartel lawyer who once represented Benjamin Arellano Felix to represent her in federal court Monday. I doubt he’s working pro bono.
I assume the Americans will turn to the Mexicans to try and straighten this all out. Goodness knows mistaken identity has happened before. American law enforcement’s cartel intelligence is usually limited to gossip, accidental findings, or what websites publish to the Internet (what they like to call “open source”).
In 2009, the most unfortunately named man on the border was arrested in Mexicali. Alberto Mario Beltrán Leyva is a doctor from Calexico. The Americans thought he was one of the notorious Beltrán Leyva brothers by the same name and turned him over to the Mexicans. It took nearly a week and an incarceration in Mexico City before they let the poor man out.
And maybe Gisselle Guzmán Salazar really is El Chapo’s daughter and it wasn’t so much an admittance but a little bit of narco-royalty arrogance that prompted her to name-drop El Chapo.
That’s happened before, too. In 2006, the last widow of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Sayda Graciela, was detained after she tried cutting to the front of the port-of-entry traffic in Nogales, Sonora. She yelled at the cops that they’d better let her go or she’d send her brother-in-law, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, over to kidnap them. The Mexicans decided she wasn't a threat and let her go. Or they preferred not to have to deal with it, I've never been sure which scenario was the case in that story.
We’ll just have to wait and see how this little bit of theater will play itself out.