Top woman in El Chapo's cartel changing plea

CHICAGO (WPVI) -- A 58-year-old Mexican national known as "La Patrona" is about to plead guilty in Chicago to being the CFO for drug cartel strongman El Chapo.

Guadalupe Fernandez Valencia, "The Patron," or special guardian of Chapo's billion-plus fortune, was allegedly among the highest-ranked female drug executives for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel and in charge of Chapo's drug-induced billions.

Federal drug investigators said Valencia was one of El Chapo's most trusted top aides. She has a change of plea hearing set for May 29th in front of Chief Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago district court.

Valencia was grabbed by Mexican federal police in early 2016 and extradited to Chicago in November 2017. She is accused of trafficking cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana, and also charged with money laundering.

Prior to her arrest U.S. Treasury Department officials put her on the nation's official "Kingpin List," meaning assets she holds here can be seized.

El Chapo, officially Joaquin Guzman, was convicted by a New York jury in February and is due to be sentenced on June 25.

Chapo is lead defendant in the very similar Chicago drug conspiracy in which Valencia is expected to plead guilty. He is not expected to face trial here because he is looking at a potential life sentence in New York.

The specific plea deal she is looking at with prosecutors in Chicago is not known, nor the details of a possible sentence.

Valencia's brother was also charged in the Chicago conspiracy case and was in the first wave of guilty pleas. Manuel Fernandez-Valencia is now serving a 27-year sentence.

Ms. Guadalupe's attorneys in Chicago did not immediately respond to messages.

Several of those under indictment in the Chicago case are fugitives, including one of El Chapo's sons.
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