In recent months, US authorities have arrested the wives of three figures from the Sinaloa cartel, including “El Chapo” Guzmán.
The arrests shed light on what cartel agents and security experts say is the neglected but important role women play in Mexican organized crime.
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Ciudad Juarez, MEXICO – The infamous Sinaloa cartel relies on its wives to continue its most complicated operations, according to cartel agents, security analysts and government indictments.
Arrests of Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of Baron Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and Mia and Olivia Flores, wives of Pedro and Margarito Flores, twin brothers and cartel distributors, provide insight into the influence of barons’ wives have on cartel operations.
On February 22, Coronel was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and charged with helping her husband run the cartel he has led for decades. Coronel pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and conspiracy charges in June.
Aispuro is also accused of aiding at least two of Guzman’s escapes by planning and conveying messages, the first in 2012 when he escaped from US and Mexican authorities in Cabo San Lucas and the last in 2015 when he escaped from US and Mexican authorities in Cabo San Lucas. he escaped from maximum security prison at the Altiplano in Mexico. .
“The defendant agrees that by providing assistance to Guzman, she aided and encouraged the objectives of the DTO as a whole,” prosecutors said in Coronel’s 12-page indictment.
According to a Sinaloa cartel agent in Culiacan, the cartel’s home territory, Coronel’s arrest is “surprising”, but the charges are not.
“The authorities do not pay much attention to women [of cartel members]. That’s what was quite surprising about this arrest, but the fact that she was operating for the organization is not news. She’s not the first, “and won’t be the last wife to do so,” the agent, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told Insider.
The cartel member said most of the kingpin wives were tasked with “complex” tasks, such as money laundering, coordinating operations and communicating with other cartel members, authorities or lawyers. .
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, security expert and author of “Los Zetas Inc.”, said that while organized crime is a “very patriarchal world,” women benefit from their presence there.
“The prejudice we have of women, where we think they are weaker, unable to get involved in a world like organized crime, actually works in their favor,” she told Insider.
Correa-Cabrera said women have access to inside information and places where men might be restricted.
“Emma Coronel could access and move freely inside and outside the prison only because she is El Chapo’s wife. She could even attend her husband’s trial while being the subject of ‘an investigation by US authorities, “Correa-Cabrera said.
“Women still play a secondary role in criminal organizations but [are] definitely increasing their presence, ”added Correa-Cabrera.
The wives of Chicago’s Flores twins, who have been accused of working with the Sinaloa cartel to bring drugs into the United States, appear to reflect this trend.
Pedro and Margarito Flores were sentenced in 2015 to 14 years in prison and were released late last year under witness protection after agreeing to cooperate against Guzman.
Vivianna Lopez, 40, also known as Mia Flores, and Valerie Gaytan, 45, also known as Olivia Flores, were arrested in June on charges of money laundering, who allegedly helped clean up hundreds of thousands of dollars of their husbands’ drug proceeds for over a decade.
The twins ‘wives have written a book called “Cartel Wives” in which they describe what it is like to be married to cartel members and their lives after their husbands’ arrest.
“As for the personal side of this story, we want to provide an unfiltered look at why people enter a life of crime,” says the book’s introduction.
“From 2005 to 2008, our husbands smuggled $ 2 billion into Mexico, and we were seeing these houses full of money,” Olivia told Insider in a 2017 interview.
“We knew exactly what they were doing. We didn’t know the details, but we knew what they were doing,” Olivia told Vogue in an interview in 2018.
The Sinaloa cartel agent said the involvement of kingpin wives could be a double-edged sword, as they have “very sensitive information”.
“It’s very easy [for] things go wrong when we talk about the wives of the “bosses”. They are still there, they are collecting information and they could be of great help to the organization, but could also sell that same information to another group or to the authorities, ”the agent said.
The agent declined to comment specifically on the Flores twins and their wives.
This month Olivia and Mia pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges. The two live under supposed identities due to the dangers posed by their husbands’ cooperation, according to their book.
Coronel has pleaded guilty to all charges and is expected to be sentenced on September 15. She faces life imprisonment.
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