Alexandria, Virginia, AP Adult Retention Center
The wife of Mexico’s most famous drug king, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is expected to plead guilty on Thursday to helping him run the powerful Sinaloa cartel and help him dramatically escape a Mexican prison.
Emma Coronel Aispuro was captured and arrested by US officials when she arrived at Dulles Airport in Virginia in February. The former beauty queen has been charged with involvement in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for import to the United States, according to the Department of Justice.
Investigators also say Coronel played a key role in breaking Guzman’s prison in 2015 when he emerged from the Altiplano prison through an underground tunnel connecting a shower hole in his prison cell to a nearby warehouse stocked with weapons and armored vehicles. According to court documents, she tried to organize a second escape after the drug lord was imprisoned a year later.
El Chapo’s terror put him in Supermax
Guzman ruled the Sinaloa cartel for about 30 years, building it into a notoriously brutal global empire. He was violent, condescending, and extremely wealthy, which allowed him to elude the Mexican authorities for decades, eluding them again and again. Whether through bribery, torture, executions, or armed battles on a paramilitary level, he seemed almost untouchable, unable to be thrown into a cage by law enforcement for long.
But his series ended in 2017, when he was extradited to the United States for trial. After hearing horrific accounts of Guzman’s savage exploits from victims and their families, as well as the intricacies of their multibillion-dollar drug empire from dozens of former cartel members, a federal jury convicted the 64-year-old on multiple charges. He is serving a life sentence at Supermax Prison in Colorado.
The former beauty queen stood next to her husband
Craig Ruttle / AP
Coronel, whose beauty and glamorous lifestyle made her an object of fascination for Mexican tabloids, attended the trial almost every day. Not even a mistress testifying against the former crime boss kept Coronel away.
The investigation of Coronel, whose father was a high-ranking lieutenant in Guzman’s organization, lasted nearly two years.
The court documents state that it controls a huge fortune gained from the sale of multi-ton shipments of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. And that for years, when Guzman was on the run or temporarily behind bars, she served as a mediator and messenger for him and the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, including some of his sons.
Investigators also say she contributed to a second prison escape plan after Guzman was captured by Mexican authorities in 2016. This time, according to documents, Coronel paid a $ 2 million bribe to a prison officer to have her husband transferred to the Altiplano prison, from which he had erupted a year earlier. The plan never materialized.
The 31-year-old man was born in California and is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico. She is believed to be Guzman’s third wife, although there are rumors that he has a fourth. The couple married when she was 18 and he was 39 and they already have twin girls.
Coronel is expected to appear before a federal judge in Washington on Thursday morning.