Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman illegally traveled to California twice last year after he escaped from a Mexican prison in 2015, raising questions about the security of the U.S. border. Guzman's daughter, Rosa Isela Guzman Ortiz, a U.S. citizen, claims her father crossed the border in late 2015 to visit relatives and tour a five-bedroom house he had purchased for her, the Guardian reported Friday.
Guzman was captured in January following an interview with actor Sean Penn in Mexico after a massive manhunt that lasted for seven months. Guzman Ortiz, 39, said her father bankrolled Mexican politicians to help him stay on the lam but would not explain how he crossed the U.S. border.
“My dad deposited the money in a bank account with a lawyer, and a while after, he came to see the house, his house. He came twice,” she said of the drug cartel leader.
Guzman fled a high-security Mexican prison through a mile-long tunnel in an escape that shocked the world. Guzman is expected to be extradited to the U.S., where his lawyers hope he will be able to broker a deal and get a lighter sentence.
During an earlier prison break in 2011, then Mexican President Felipe Calderón said Guzman could be hiding north of the border. “He’s not in Mexican territory, and I suppose ‘El Chapo’ is in U.S. territory,” he told the New York Times at the time.
His daughter blamed the government for accepting her father's bribes. “My dad is not a criminal. The government is guilty,” she said. The Guardian noted her claims could not be independently verified and "are likely to be vigorously contested by Mexican and U.S. authorities."
The U.S. has spent billions of dollars in recent years to increase border security. Illegal immigration has dropped to its lowest level in at least two decades as the U.S. has increased the Customs and Border Protection budget by $10.7 billion in the past decade, or 75 percent.