Wife of drug king “El Chapo” arrested on US drug charge
The wife of the Mexican drug king Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested in the United States on Monday. She is accused of helping her husbandand plan his daring escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday. She is dual citizen of the United States and Mexico.
Her arrest is the latest twist in the bloody multinational saga involving Guzman, the longtime head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Guzman, whose two dramatic escapes from prison in Mexico led to legend that he and his family were virtually inviolable, was extradited to the United States in 2017 and served his life in prison.
Now his wife, with whom he has two young daughters, has been accused of helping him run his criminal empire. Coronel was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the United States in a criminal complaint. The Justice Department also accused her of helping her husband escape a Mexican prison in 2015 and of being involved in planning a second prison escape before Guzman was extradited to the United States
Coronel’s attorney Jeffrey Lichtman declined to comment Monday night.
As Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Guzman led a cartel responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in recent court records. They also said that his “army of sicarios” or “batsmen” were ordered to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who stood in his way.
His prison breaks became legendary and raised serious questions about whether the Mexican judicial system was able to hold him accountable. In one case, he fled through an entrance under the shower in his cell into a kilometer-long illuminated tunnel with a motorcycle on rails. According to prosecutors, the planning for the escape was extensive, with his wife playing a key role.
According to court records, Coronel worked with Guzman’s sons and a witness now working with the U.S. government to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzman used to escape Altiplano prison to prevent his extradition to the U.S. a piece of land near the prison, firearms and an armored truck that smuggled him a GPS watch so that they could “pinpoint his exact location in order to build the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him,” according to the Court records.
Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in 2019.
Coronel, who was a beauty queen in her teens, regularly attended Guzman’s trial, even if the testimony implicated her on his jail time off. The two, who are more than 30 years old, have been together since at least 2007 and their twin daughters were born in 2011.
Her father, Ines Coronel Barreras, was arrested in 2013 with one of his sons and several other men in a warehouse of hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border from Douglas, Arizona. Months earlier, the US Treasury Department announced financial sanctions against her father for alleged drug trafficking.
After Guzman was arrested again after his escape, Coronel campaigned for the Mexican government to improve her husband’s prison conditions. And after he was convicted in 2019, she started a clothing line on his behalf.
Mike Vigil, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration for international operations, said Coronel has “been involved in drug trafficking since childhood. She knows the ins and outs of the Sinaloa cartel.”
He said she might be willing to cooperate.
“She is very motivated and these are her twins,” said Vigil.
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