Drug lord 'El Chapo' sneaked into California twice after escape from prison, his daughter says

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman managed twice to evade border security and sneak into California to visit relatives after his escape from prison, according to his daughter.

Guzman entered the U.S. shortly after his interview in October with actor Sean Penn, said the drug kingpin’s eldest daugther, Rosa Isela Guzman Ortiz, in an interview with the Guardian.

She said her father gave money to Mexican politicians in exchange for protection, a deal she said was broken. Guzman Ortiz provided the Guardian with a number of documents confirming her identity, including a birth certificate.

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Guzman, one of the world's most wanted criminals, was recaptured Jan. 8 after a bloody shootout in the Mexican coastal town of Los Mochis. He had escaped from prison in July, his second escape from a maximum-security prison, using a milelong tunnel and help from security guards.

The Mexican attorney general's office announced the day after his capture that it had begun the process of extraditing Guzman to face charges in the U.S. The government had refused to consider such a move when Guzman was recaptured in February 2014 after more than a decade on the lam.

On Jan. 23, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said that he had ordered the attorney general's office to "accelerate" the extradition process.

But even with a willing Mexican government, the extradition process could take years if Guzman decides to fight the procedure.

Guzman is willing to accept extradition and plead guilty to charges in a U.S. court if he can negotiate an "unelevated" prison sentence in a medium-security prison, his lawyer told reporters last month.

In an interview with Radio Formula of Mexico City, Guzman's attorney, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, said his client had decided to try to negotiate such a course of action because of what he described as poor treatment in the Altiplano prison where he is being held.

carlos.lozano@latimes.com

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