The wife of Mexican drug king Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested Monday in the United States. She is accused of helping her husbandand preparing for 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 scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday. She has dual citizenship of the United States and Mexico.
His arrest is the latest twist in the bloody multinational saga involving Guzman, the longtime leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Guzman, whose two dramatic Mexican prison escapes fueled the legend that he and his family were almost untouchable, was extradited to the United States in 2017 and is serving a life sentence.
Now his wife, with whom he has two young daughters, has been accused of helping him rule his criminal empire. In a single count criminal complaint, Coronel was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the U.S. The Department of Justice also charged her for helping her husband escape a Mexican prison in 2015 and helping to plan a second prison escape before Guzman was extradited to the United States
Coronel’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, declined to comment on Monday evening.
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 have said in recent court documents. They also said his “army of sicarios” or “contract killers” had been ordered to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who stood in their way.
His prison escapes became legendary and raised serious questions about whether the Mexican justice system was capable of holding him accountable. In one case, he escaped through a shower entry into his cell into a mile-long lighted tunnel with a motorcycle on rails. Planning for the escape took a long time, prosecutors said, with his wife playing a key role.
Court documents accuse Coronel of working with Guzman’s sons and a witness, who is now cooperating with the US government, to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzman used to escape the Altiplano prison in order to ‘prevent his extradition to the United States. a piece of land near the prison, guns and an armored truck and smuggling him a GPS watch so they could “pinpoint his exact location in order to build the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him “, indicate the court documents.
Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in 2019.
Coronel, who was a beauty queen as a teenager, regularly attended Guzman’s trial, even when testimonies implicated her in his prison escapes. The two, separated by the age of over 30, have been together for at least 2007 and their twin daughters were born in 2011.
His father, Ines Coronel Barreras, was arrested in 2013 along with one of his sons and several other men in a warehouse with hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border from Douglas, Arizona. Months earlier, the US Treasury announced financial sanctions against his father for his alleged drug trafficking.
After Guzman was arrested again after her escape, Coronel lobbied the Mexican government to improve her husband’s conditions of detention. And after being convicted in 2019, she decided to launch a clothing line in his name.
Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Coronel “has been involved in drug trafficking since she was little. She knows the inner workings of the Sinaloa cartel.”
He said she might be willing to cooperate.
“She has a huge motivation, and these are her twins,” Vigil said.