A former beauty pageant winner and a journalism student, Emma Coronel Aispuro was born in San Francisco. (File image: Instagram/@therealemmacoronel)
Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of infamous Mexican druglord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, pleaded guilty to a range of charges in the United States and admitted that she had helped her husband run his multibillion-dollar notorious Sinaloa cartel of smugglers.
Appearing in federal court in Washington, 31-year-old Aispuro admitted helping Guzmán run his criminal empire and assisting in his prison escape in 2015.
Aispuro was arrested in February at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and has been jailed since then. In the court on June 10, she pleaded guilty to three federal offenses as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The charges include knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine for several years, money-laundering conspiracy and engaging in transactions with a foreign narcotics trafficker, reported Associated Press.
In the court, prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said, the woman had aided and abetted Guzmán’s cartels objectives to smuggle drugs into the US and helped to import more than 450,000 kilograms of cocaine, 90,000 kilograms of heroin, 45,000 kilograms of methamphetamine and about 90,000 kilograms of marijuana, said the report.
Guzmán (63) is currently serving a life sentence in Colorado for drug trafficking and money laundering. As Mexico's most powerful drug lord, he ran the Sinaloa cartel responsible for smuggling cocaine and other drugs into the US during his 25-year reign, said the report citing prosecutors.
Who is Emma Coronel Aispuro?
Born in San Francisco, Emma Coronel Aispuro is a dual US-Mexico citizen. A former beauty pageant winner and a journalism student, she grew up in the mountains of Durango bordering Guzman's Sinaloa state in an impoverished area known as the Golden Triangle. She married Guzman in 2007 when she was 18 years old and he was 50. At the time of their marriage, Guzman was one of the world’s most powerful drug traffickers.
Her father, Ines Coronel Barreras, allegedly took charge of moving the Sinaloa cartel’s marijuana across the border into Arizona before his arrest in Mexico in 2013.
How did Coronel Aispuro get highlighted?
Aispuro disappeared from public view after their wedding in 2007. It was only after 4 years in 2011, she returned to the news when it was reported that she had given birth to their twin daughters in Los Angeles County.
She was with Guzman when he was captured by Mexican marines on February 22, 2014.
Guzman was sent to the maximum-security Altiplano prison outside Mexico City while his lawyers fought his extradition. On July 11, 2015, Guzman escaped through a mile-long tunnel that had been dug to the shower in his cell. However, in January 2016, Mexican marines recaptured Guzman in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. In February that year, Coronel gave her first-ever interview to Hernandez. In the interview, she repeatedly complained about the conditions in which Guzman was being held.
She lived a relativel-sheltered life until her part in a grueling trial that drew international attention. She made a splash at the El Chapo trial with her designer wardrobe. One day, she reportedly wore a burgundy velvet blazer that matched one she had sent to Guzman to wear that day.
Her confidence in the courtroom grabbed eyeballs. She was often seen playing with her hair while waiting for proceedings to start and chatting amicably with reporters sitting behind her. She also used to carry crackers and cookies in her purse, and offer snacks to reporters sometimes.
She was once seen chatting and laughing in the courtroom with Mexican actor Alejandro Edda, who played Guzman in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico.
Coronel Aispuro’s arrest
The arrest of Aispuro was seen as a surprise because authorities had made no move to arrest her over the past two years despite the fact that she was implicated in her husband’s crime, reported AP.
In the trial, Nardozzi said she served as a go-between to deliver messages to cartel members after her husband was arrested. She also conspired with Guzman’s sons to plan and coordinate his prison escapes, the prosecutor said.
Coronel Aispuro listened quietly as prosecutors described how they could prove her illegal activity if she chose to go to trial.
When asked by the judge if she had actually committed the crimes the government described, she said yes, through a translator.