Wife of former drug boss Chapo Guzmán pleads guilty

Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera. Photo EFE

She knew that her husband was sending tons of drugs to the United States and for years helped him in his business and escape from prison: Emma Coronel, the wife of the former head of the Sinaloa cartel Chapo Guzmán, admitted his crimes on Thursday before a federal judge in Washington DC , says AFP.

"Guilty," Coronel told Judge Rudolph Contreras, when asked if she was guilty or innocent of the three charges she was charged with: conspiracy to distribute drugs in the United States, money laundering and transactions with a designated drug dealer.

During the hearing, which the public and the press could hear by phone, prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said that Coronel helped El Chapo send to the United States at least 450 tons of cocaine, 90 of heroin, 45 of methamphetamine and 90 of marijuana, the figures that the Sinaloa cartel is presumed to have sent to the country over 25 years.

He also indicated that Coronel, who married El Chapo when he was a teenager and had two twin girls with him, profited by renting properties bought with drug money.

According to Nardozzi, Coronel acted as an “intermediary” between cartel members and her husband when he was in jail in Mexico, and helped Chapo's children “plan and coordinate” their escape from prison through a tunnel in 2015 and on another later occasion, frustrated by the deportation of the drug lord to New York.

Coronel, 31, will be sentenced by Judge Contreras on September 15 and will remain in detention until then. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, but his guilty plea could shorten his sentence.

The former Mexican-American beauty queen was arrested at an international airport near Washington on February 22. She has been detained ever since.

Her husband, Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán, considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world before being extradited in 2017, was sentenced to life in prison in July 2019 in New York for sending tons of drugs to the United States over 25 years.

El Chapo, 64, is serving his sentence in the highest security federal prison in the country, the ADX prison in Florence, Colorado.

- Fascination -

Emma Coronel attended Chapo's historic trial in Brooklyn federal court almost every day, which lasted more than three months and ended in February 2019. With more than 600.000 followers on Instagram, she attracted the fascination of the public and the press.

Always impeccably dressed and made up, she greeted her husband from afar. She was forbidden to visit him in jail, and the judge also prevented her from giving him one last hug in court before imprisoning him forever.

Coronel even left everyone speechless in court when he combined his clothes with Chapo's - both wore purple velvet blazers - in a show of unity before a Chapo's ex-lover who was giving testimony that day.

Witnesses and evidence shown by the prosecution at the trial indicated that Coronel was aware of her husband's drug trafficking business and that he helped him to try to escape from prison twice.

One of those witnesses, Dámaso López Núñez, alias “Licenciado”, former head of a Mexican prison who later worked for El Chapo, told how Emma Coronel conspired with El Chapo's children to help her husband escape from the Altiplano prison on a motorcycle for a 1,5 km tunnel, and planning a second leak after its capture a year later, which never materialized.

Again, prosecutors revealed text messages in which El Chapo asks Coronel to hide his weapons before a police operation.

The prosecution also released an intercepted call between Coronel and El Chapo, in which the woman passes the phone to her father, Inés Coronel Barreras, who was also a member of the Sinaloa cartel, so that El Chapo could advise her on a drug crossing through the border with the United States.

 

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