January 22nd, 2016 (EFE) The transfer of a female state lawmaker to Mexico’s capital for questioning about her links to imprisoned Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman has sparked criticism due to the way in which she was brought in and the fact that she enjoys legislative immunity from prosecution as an elected official.
Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, a member of the legislature of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, where the notorious drug lord was born, was taken Wednesday night by Federal Police to Mexico City, where she was questioned for roughly 20 hours at the offices of the Seido organized-crime division of the federal Attorney General’s Office.
Ruben Tamayo, Sanchez’s attorney, told reporters afterward that his client was released at around 7:00 p.m. Thursday after being informed that she was the subject of a federal investigation, adding that she would later submit a sworn, written statement.
The defense attorney said he was present throughout the questioning and that prosecutors treated his client in a respectful manner.
The federal AG’s office said Wednesday night that Sanchez’s transfer from Sinaloa to Mexico City stemmed from a subpoena issued as part of a probe into allegations that she entered the Altiplano I maximum-security prison to visit Guzman using fake ID.
Respected newsweekly Proceso reported last year that Sanchez used a false identity to visit the capo at that penitentiary, located outside Mexico’s capital.
Proceso also said that as a result of Sanchez’s relationship with Guzman he fathered her two sons Ruben and Anuel.
Guzman was first housed at Altiplano I in February 2014, but he escaped last July through a tunnel dug to his cell. The drug lord then was returned to the same prison after being recaptured earlier this month in Sinaloa state.
He had earlier busted out of a Mexican prison in 2001 and evaded authorities for more than 13 years before being recaptured on Feb. 22, 2014, in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan.
Sanchez, who on Wednesday announced that she would no longer be a part of the conservative opposition National Action Party’s, or PAN’s, faction in the state legislature, accused the federal government of orchestrating a “televised show” by linking her with the drug lord.
The PAN, for its part, said last week that Sanchez no longer belonged to the party, noting that in 2013 she had run as a candidate of a multiparty alliance that included the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, and the PAN, among others.
Although the federal AG’s office said Sanchez had been subpoenaed to appear and had not been arrested, the manner in which the writ was executed sparked criticism in political circles.
Guadalupe Carrizoza Chaidez, coordinator of the PAN’s legislative faction in the Sinaloa legislature, told EFE that federal agents had intercepted Sanchez on Wednesday as she was leaving her home in Culiacan, the state capital, in an “arbitrary” manner that violated her parliamentary immunity.
Carrizoza said the lawmaker was taken by force to the airport despite being accompanied by her two sons, one of whom she was carrying in her arms.
Asked by EFE about the legality of taking the lawmaker in for questioning, criminal defense attorney Gerardo Navarro said the federal AG’s office would probably say that she had been served a subpoena but had not been placed under arrest, “which has a more direct connotation of an accusation.”
Authorities may bring a case against a lawmaker if they find evidence of wrongdoing, but the elected official must first be stripped of parliamentary immunity, he added.