The wife of the Mexican drug leader known as El Chapo has been arrested at a US airport on charges of international drug trafficking.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, was detained at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and is expected to appear in federal court later, the US Department of Justice has said.
She has been charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the United States, as well as helping her husband escape from prison in Mexico via a secret tunnel in 2015.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was once Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, with his Sinaloa cartel responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year criminal career.
He first escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001, leading authorities in a 13-year manhunt before being recaptured.
It was his second major prison break in 2015 that his wife reportedly played a key role in planning.
Guzman managed to escape through a hole in his cell shower that led to a mile-long lighted tunnel, using a motorcycle on rails to hasten his departure.
The plot included the purchase of land near the prison, as well as guns and an armored truck, and the drug lord’s smuggling a GPS watch so his allies could “locate exactly where he is in order to build the tunnel with an entry point accessible to it, ”court documents say.
Prosecutors say Coronel Aispuro worked with Guzman’s sons and a witness, who is now cooperating with the US government, to organize the construction of the tunnel.
The 31-year-old is also accused of planning another prison break before Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017.
Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in 2019.
The infamous criminal is said to have an “army of sicarios” or hitmen who were ordered to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who stood in his way.
Coronel Aispuro had regularly attended her husband’s trial.
She is still in custody and it is not yet known whether she has a lawyer who can comment on the allegations.