The wife of infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has pleaded guilty to a series of charges, including conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs.
Appearing in Washington court, Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, admitted to helping Guzmán run the Sinaloa drug cartel and aiding his escape from prison in 2015.
She could face life in prison and be fined up to $ 10million (£ 7.1million).
Guzmán, 63, is currently serving a life sentence in Colorado for drug trafficking and money laundering.
Authorities say the Sinaloa cartel was the largest supplier of drugs to the United States.
Coronel Aispuro appeared in court wearing a green jumpsuit and white mask to argue his case before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs, conspiracy to launder money and engaging in financial transactions with the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Coronel Aispuro – who struck a plea deal – also admitted playing a role in her husband’s escape from prison in 2015.
A defining moment
Her voice was calm but clear in the courtroom. Throughout the hour-long proceedings, she spoke in Spanish and her words were translated into English by an interpreter (I listened to her speak from outside the courthouse, via a conference call).
It was a defining moment: I had met Coronel, one of the most powerful women in drug trafficking, in New York City and watched her smile at the photographers as they flocked around her in front of the courthouse. where her husband was on trial.
She has now confessed her own guilt as a cartel participant and the judge then made it official.
“I find you guilty of the charge,” he told her.
Minutes later, the phone line to the courtroom was cut, marking the end of an era for her and for those who followed her life in the world of drug trafficking.
Guzmán’s 2019 trial heard shocking revelations about his life, ranging from drugs and rape of girls as young as 13 to cold-blooded murders of former cartel members and rivals.
Coronel Aispuro, a former beauty queen, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC in February and charged with conspiracy to distribute 5 kg or more of cocaine, 1 kg or more of heroin, 500 grams or more methamphetamine and 1,000 kg or more of cannabis. , as well as help and encouragement.
Prosecutors accused her of helping Guzmán smuggle drugs between 2012 and 2014 by relaying messages and then continuing to pass messages while visiting him in a Mexican prison after her arrest in February 2014.
Guzmán was released from maximum security prison at the Altiplano in Mexico via an elaborate tunnel escape. His sons bought property near the prison and smuggled in a GPS watch, giving the diggers its exact location. Guzmán escaped by riding a specially adapted small motorbike through the tunnel.
Court documents indicate Coronel Aispuro was allegedly involved in planning another prison escape for her husband before he was extradited to the United States in January 2017.
Who is Emma Coronel Aispuro?
Coronel Aispuro has dual Mexican-American citizenship, former beauty pageant winner, journalism student, and mother of twins with Guzmán. According to previous interviews with US media, she first met him at a ball when he was 17 and he was 49.
She attended her husband’s three-month trial in New York almost daily, in which she not only heard grim tales of murder and rape, but also claimed that he had spied on her and her. ‘other mistresses.
She was in the media spotlight during this trial.
In one case, she appeared to laugh during the tearful testimony of one of Guzmán’s mistresses. On another day, she and Guzmán wore similar velvet jackets, which many people interpreted as a show of solidarity.
She remained throughout her support for Guzmán, declaring at the end of the trial: “I don’t know my husband as the person they are trying to show him, but I admire him more as a human being than I do. ‘ve met, and the one that I married. “
Guzmán comes from a poor family in the state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. His organized crime business grew to such an extent that it entered the Forbes 2009 list of the richest men in the world at number 701, with an estimated value of $ 1 billion (£ 709 million).