A Mexican legislator could face jail time for allegedly using fake ID to visit Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán during the drug lord's 17-month spell behind bars prior to his spectacular escape last July.
Mexico's Congress stripped Lucero Sánchez López of her immunity from prosecution on Monday so she can be tried for allegedly falsifying documents. The 27-year-old Sánchez, a deputy from Chapo's home state of Sinaloa, could face a prison sentence of up to 12 years if found guilty.
Authorities released a photograph that they have said shows the young politician flashing a false identity at a security camera when visiting El Chapo in 2014, when he was being held in the Altiplano maximum-security prison.
Investigators also reportedly found her genuine driver's license in a car outside the safe house in the Sinaloan city of Los Mochis from which El Chapo narrowly escaped a special forces sting operation in the early hours of January 8 this year. While he got away through a tunnel into the drainage system, he was captured hours later attempting to flee the city in a stolen car, ending his six months on the run.
At the same time the media have scrutinized Sánchez over her alleged links to the notorious kingpin with whom many have reported she had a romantic relationship.
Sánchez herself has denied she has ever met with Guzmán, refuted hints he could be the father of her two children, and ruled out that she ever received money from the drug lord for her electoral campaign.
As federal deputies debated over whether to open the way for Sanchez's prosecution, the local deputy took to Facebook to express her "confidence" that justice will be done. "They are attacking me personally," she posted. "Since the start of this whole thing there has not been a single piece of evidence against me."
It is not unusual for politicians from Sinaloa to be accused of meeting with drug lords, which is not in itself illegal, though they do not tend to advertise this. Chapo's notoriety, however, has meant many others appear keen for the world to know that they did meet with the kingpin.
The day after Chapo was recaptured, again, on January 8, Rolling Stone published a lengthy account written by Sean Penn detailing an October 2015 rendezvous in the mountains organized by Mexican telenovela star Kate del Castillo.The actress also later gave lengthy TV interviews about the encounter and her previous contact with him through messages and letters.
Chapo's recognized common-law wife, a former small town beauty queen called Emma Coronel, has also talked to the media about her meetings with Guzmán while he was on the run. A woman living in the United States who claims to be the daughter of El Chapo said in an interview with The Guardian in March that the fugitive drug lord visited her and her son in California twice.
Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz