Alexandria, VA, Adult Detention Center via AP
The wife of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, is expected to plead guilty on Thursday for helping him lead the powerful Sinaloa cartel and aiding his dramatic escape from a Mexican prison.
Emma Coronel Aispuro was captured and arrested by US officials as she arrived at Dulles Airport in Virginia in February. The former beauty queen faces charges of participation in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the United States, according to the Department of Justice.
Investigators also allege that Coronel played a key role in Guzmán’s escape in 2015 when he was released from the Altiplano prison via an underground tunnel connecting a hole in his cell’s shower to a nearby warehouse filled with weapons and armored cars. According to court documents, she also attempted to stage a second escape after the drug boss was jailed a year later.
El Chapo’s reign of terror put him in Supermax
Guzmán ruled the Sinaloa cartel for around 30 years, turning it into a notoriously brutal global empire. He was violent, accomplice, and immensely wealthy, which allowed him to elude Mexican authorities for decades, eluding them time and time again. Whether through bribes, torture, executions or paramilitary shootings, he seemed almost untouchable, unable to be locked up for long by law enforcement.
But his streak ended in 2017 when he was extradited to the United States for trial. After hearing the gruesome tales of Guzmán’s savage exploits from victims and their families, as well as the intricacies of his multi-billion dollar drug empire from dozens of former cartel members, a jury federal sentenced the 64-year-old man on a multitude of charges. He is serving a life sentence at Supermax Prison in Colorado.
The former beauty queen supported her man
Craig Ruttle / AP
Coronel, whose beauty and glamorous lifestyle made her an object of fascination with Mexican tabloids, attended the trial almost daily. Even a mistress testifying against the former crime boss didn’t keep Coronel out of the way.
The investigation into Coronel, whose father was a high-ranking lieutenant in Guzmán’s organization, lasted almost two years.
Court documents indicate that she controlled a vast fortune from the sale of several tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. And that for years, when Guzmán was on the run or temporarily behind bars, she served as an intermediary and messenger for him and the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, including some of his sons.
Investigators also say she was instrumental in a second prison escape plan after Guzmán was caught by Mexican authorities in 2016. This time, according to the documents, Coronel paid a bribe $ 2 million to a prison officer to have her husband transferred to Altiplano prison, where he had burst a year earlier. The plan never came to fruition.
The 31-year-old was born in California and holds dual American and Mexican citizenship. She is believed to be Guzmán’s third wife, although there are rumors that he has a fourth. The couple got married when she was 18 and he was 39 and they now have twins.
Coronel is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Washington, DC on Thursday morning.