How the world’s most wanted man hid from law in plain sight

By Stephanie Leonti-Smith, CNN

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, once called the world’s most powerful drug kingpin, was living like a true kingpin in Mexico — in plain sight.

But it turns out that Dania Guzman was a woman of lesser powers — until it all came crashing down.

It all began on August 4, 2012, when Dania Guzman, an elementary school teacher, filed a missing person report in Los Angeles.

Her husband, Joaquin Guzman-Sanchez, had been reported missing by a business partner from Mexico City earlier that month.

The business partner told a US official that the fugitive drug lord ran drugs from Mexico to the United States, working with corrupt Mexican and US officials. But he denied knowing any of the money he made made its way back to Mexico.

Dania Guzman received no help from police during their initial investigation, CNN reported at the time.

But days later, someone received a tip that Guzman was at a friend’s house in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. When Dania Guzman went to the house, she found her husband handcuffed. Police arrested him.

When Guzman asked the arresting officer why he had been arrested, he responded with a single word: “Guzman,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Guzman has not been charged and still denies he was involved in her husband’s business.

Even so, federal prosecutors charged Dania Guzman with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. She was extradited to New York in 2015 and the following year, her husband was extradited from Mexico to the United States.

He was sent to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he awaited trial on drug conspiracy and murder charges in New York. Guzman’s trial started this month, and Wednesday was the second day of closing arguments.

Authorities alleged in court documents that Dania Guzman used her marriage to Joaquin Guzman to hide her husband’s criminal activities.

She tried to further her husband’s drug operations by laundering money through her real estate business, Soho Properties, prosecutors alleged.

The woman said she knew her husband had ties to drug trafficking when she married him.

“Everything Joaquin Guzman Jr. did in life was driven by his own interests,” she testified. “However, his decision to get married to Dania was an accident.”

Dania Guzman claimed that the prosecution’s case was designed to embarrass her and prosecute her for her alleged role in her husband’s drug trafficking.

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