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Woman, 60, only one to hold high-ranking spot in El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel, gets to10-year sentence

Top member of El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel FLIPS and gives ‘substantial assistance’ to feds: Smuggler, 60, is jailed for ten years in deal but she could be out in three

  • Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, a senior leader in the Sinaloa Cartel, received a 10-year prison term during a Wednesday court hearing in Chicago
  • The 60-year-old is the only woman to hold a high-ranking position in the cartel that was co-founded by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán  
  • She was arrested in Culiacán, Mexico, in 2016 and was then extradited to the United States in 2017 
  • She pleaded guilty during in 2019 conspiring to traffic drugs and money laundering conspiracy for coordinating the distribution of drugs to the U.S.


The only woman to ever hold a high-ranking position with Joaquín ‘El Chapo‘ Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel has flipped on her former bosses and given ‘substantial assistance’ to federal investigators.

Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, 60, was sentenced by a Chicago federal court to 10 years in prison for her role as a drug smuggler with the notorious cartel – a comparatively light sentence in return for her cooperation.

Fernández Valencia broke down in tears and begged her family for forgiveness as she was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago on Wednesday.

‘I wish I could find the words to convince you of how sorry I am,’ the Mexican native said through an interpreter. ‘I want to take advantage of this opportunity to ask forgiveness from my children and from my family.’ 

Despite the 10-year sentence, Fernández Valencia could be out in as few as three years, due to time already served and good behavior. 

Meanwhile the cartel’s former kingpin El Chapo is serving a life sentence in Colorado.

Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, the only woman to ever hold a high-ranking position with Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel, has flipped on her former bosses and given ‘substantial assistance’ to federal investigators

Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel, is serving a life sentence at a super maximum facility prison in Colorado

Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel, is serving a life sentence at a super maximum facility prison in Colorado

Judge Coleman cautioned that Fernández Valencia’s willingness to work with the federal government could put a target on not only her, but her family. 

Fernández Valencia ventured into the drug trade in 1990 by trafficking drugs to the U.S. from Mexico. 

She was arrested in 1998 and served 10 years in California prison before she was released and deported. 

But she returned to the cartel as soon as she was back in Mexico.

Fernández Valencia was apprehended by the Mexico Federal Police in Culiacán, Sinaloa, on February 10, 2016, a year after the United States government had requested an arrest warrant with the purpose of extraditing her. 

She was eventually turned over to U.S. federal agents in 2017.

She appeared before a Chicago court on June 27, 2019 and pleaded guilty to one count each of narcotics trafficking and money laundering conspiracy.

But her sentencing was delayed until this week while she assisted feds who were tackling cartel investigations.

Guadalupe Fernández Valencia (pictured in police custody in 2016) pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count each of narcotics trafficking and money laundering conspiracy

Guadalupe Fernández Valencia (pictured in police custody in 2016) pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count each of narcotics trafficking and money laundering conspiracy

Federal investigators said Fernandez Valencia played an important role in shipping 3,500 pounds of marijuana from 2009 to 2010, and was also involved in trafficking close to 30 kilos of cocaine each week to the Los Angeles area during the same time period.

She paused her drug trafficking activities when her brother, Manuel Fernández Valencia, was arrested in Mexico in 2010. 

However, she returned to methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine distribution from 2012 to 2013, and also hired smugglers to deliver the drugs from Tijuana, Mexico into California.

She moved the Sinaloa Cartel’s drug trade proceeds from Los Angeles to Guadalajara, and raked in a three percent fee for the money that she moved.   

Her sibling, Manuel, was sentenced in December 2016 to 27 years in prison for trafficking cocaine for the Sinaloa Cartel and rival Beltrán-Leyva Organization.  

Police officers escort suspected drug trafficker Manuel Fernandez Valencia as he is presented to the media at the federal police headquarters in Mexico City in 2008

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