The wife of beauty queen Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who reveled in a luxurious lifestyle and stood alongside her hubby of the Sinaloa cartel throughout his trial in New York, which made the headlines, was arrested Monday for international drug trafficking.
Federal authorities have arrested Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, in Virginia at Dulles International Airport, the Justice Department said. She is charged with conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and pot into the United States, and with helping her husband in his infamous 2015 tunnel escape from a Mexican prison.
She had also planned another escape before “El Chapo” 63, who was extradited to the United States under close surveillance in 2017, federal authorities said.
Coronel’s family had been involved in drug trafficking since she was a child – her father was a major player in the cartel, and she knew the ins and outs of drug trafficking when she married El Chapo as a teenager, according to a federal complaint unsealed Monday.
She knew the specifics of her husband’s business and acted as his go-between when he was on the run and in jail, giving instructions and letters to his subordinates, federal officials said in the complaint.
Coronel also played a key role in her husband’s daring 2015 escape from Mexican high-security prison in Altipano, authorities said. His daring escape made international news and left Mexican authorities red-faced.
The drug lord disappeared through a 20 by 20 inch hole inside the shower of his prison cell, then walked away from the prison through an elaborate and ventilated 1 mile long tunnel with his own lighting that ended in a half-built house in a nearby rural farm field.
A cooperating witness told the federal government he had met with Coronel and Guzman’s four sons to discuss the drug lord’s plan to build the tunnel, according to the complaint.
“Guzman, through Coronel, asked Guzman’s sons to buy land near the Altiplano prison and ordered (the cooperating witness) to buy a warehouse near the Altiplano prison as well as guns and an armored truck, ”the complaint says. “Those in attendance also discussed the need to ship a GPS watch to Guzman in prison in order to pinpoint exactly where he is in order to build the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him.”
Chapo was picked up six months later and immediately got to work with his wife to plan another escape, according to the complaint.
She brought in the cooperating witness $ 100,000 – the first part of a million dollars that was allegedly used to buy property near the prison. But “El Chapo” was transferred to another prison in Ciudad Juarez, scuttling their plans, according to the complaint.
Coronel told the cooperating witness that the cartel paid $ 2 million in bribes to the official who oversaw Mexican prisons to try to return him to Altiplano, but the transfer never took place and he was extradited to the United States on Jan. 19, 2017, says the complaint.
She attended his trial in Brooklyn Federal Court and was present when the King of Drugs was convicted in February 2019.
“I can only say that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not perfect, but I consider myself a good human being who never intentionally hurt anyone, ”she said on her Instagram account at the end of the trial.
In July 2019, “El Chapo” was sentenced to life imprisonment over 30 years.
Coronel made an appearance on the VH1 reality show “Cartel Crews” later that year.
Guzman’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, declined to comment on Monday.
(New York Daily News writer Molly Crane-Newman contributed to this story.)