The wife of notorious Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been arrested at an airport near Washington on suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking and will plead not guilty before a US judge on Tuesday, her lawyer confirmed to Afp.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual US-Mexican citizen, is accused of being part of a network that shipped cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine to the United States, the Justice Department said Monday.
‘El Chapo’ Guzman, 32 years her senior, was the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world before being extradited to the United States in 2017. “El Chapo” was sentenced to life in prison in July 2019 and is serving his sentence in a maximum security federal prison, the ADX prison in Florence, Colorado.
The former model, famous for her tight outfits and high heels and mother of Guzman’s twin daughters born nine years ago in the United States, was arrested Monday at Dulles International Airport in the state of Virginia, near the U.S. capital.
Prosecutors and FBI investigators have confirmed that she will appear before a federal judge in Washington DC this Tuesday via videoconference. Coronel will be represented by the lawyers who represented “El Chapo” in his trial, Jeffrey Lichtman and Mariel Colón Miró, and will plead not guilty.
DRUG SHIPMENTS AND PLOTS
According to the judicial investigation, Coronel faces one count of conspiracy to distribute into the United States one kilogram or more of heroin, five kilograms or more of cocaine, one ton or more of marijuana and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
In addition, she is accused of collaborating in two plots to help Guzman escape from Mexican prisons, including the July 2015 film escape from El Altiplano prison, located in Almoloya de Juarez.
Investigators have indicated that Coronel, who they say was born on July 3, 1989 in California and resides in Mexico, married around 2007 to Guzman, a friend of his father, also a member of the Sinaloa Cartel.
“Coronel grew up with knowledge of the drug trafficking industry,” states the affidavit from the FBI agent who requested the arrest of “El Chapo’s” wife, which noted that she was aware of her husband’s drug shipments and knew that the profits she controlled during their marriage derived from those shipments.
She also said that, from 2012 to 2014, Coronel relayed messages on Guzman’s behalf while her husband eluded capture by Mexican authorities. And when “El Chapo” was arrested in 2014 she continued to do so when visiting him in prison.
“A NORMAL WOMAN”
Two years ago, Coronel attended nearly every day of her husband’s historic three-month trial in New York, smiling at him from the public bench.
Authorities would not let the young woman visit him or talk to him on the phone. Nor could she touch him during the trial, in which Coronel caused a stir by using attorney Colon’s cell phone in the courthouse cafeteria, something absolutely forbidden.
During the trial, there were moments when Coronel was presented to the public as her husband’s accomplice.
A cooperating witness who was the right-hand man of the former head of the Sinaloa Cartel recounted that in 2014 and 2015, when Chapo was imprisoned in El Altiplano in Mexico, he passed messages through Coronel to his collaborators to plan his escape through a 1.5 km long tunnel that reached the shower of his cell.
“My name was several times mentioned and exposed in doubt (sic),” Coronel admitted at the end of the trial. “Of that I can only say that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I am not perfect, but I consider myself a good human being who has never intentionally hurt anyone,” she said at the time.
Coronel then announced the launch of a clothing line that would bear her husband’s name and his initials, JGL.
Months later, she appeared as a guest on VH1’s reality show Cartel Crew, which follows family members of people linked to drug trafficking.
In an episode filmed aboard a luxury yacht near Miami, Coronel tells Michael Blanco, the son of Colombian cocaine queen Griselda Blanco, that he wants to have a normal life.
“Sometimes you want to do what everyone around you does,” she said. “I consider myself a normal woman and it happens to me a lot that people judge me without knowing me.”