WASHINGTON (AP) – A United States judge ordered the wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán remain behind bars Tuesday after she was accused of helping her husband run his multi-million dollar criminal empire.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a US and Mexican citizen, appeared by videoconference for an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in Washington, DC. She was arrested Monday at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
When the judge asked him if he understood what was happening, Coronel said through the interpreter: “I understood everything very well, thank you.”
At the hearing, prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi alleged that Coronel “worked closely with the command and control structure” of the Sinaloa cartel and conspired to distribute large quantities of drugs, knowing that they would be smuggled into the United States. If found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
Coronel’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he would consent to his temporary detention.
The colonel’s arrest came as a surprise in part because authorities made no move to arrest her for the past two years, even after she was implicated in her husband’s crimes. During Guzmán’s 2019 trial, prosecutors said he helped orchestrate Guzman’s two prison escapes in Mexico – bold escapes that raised serious questions about whether Mexico’s justice system was capable of holding him accountable.
He is now serving a life sentence in the United States.
The colonel participated in her husband’s three-month trial, which took place in New York. The two, separated in age for more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007, and their twin daughters were born in 2011.
As Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Guzmán led a cartel responsible for smuggling cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors say. They also said that their “army of hitmen”, or “hit men,” had orders to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who got in their way.
On Tuesday, Nardozzi said Coronel had access to criminal partners, including other members of the cartel, and “financial means to create a serious flight risk.”
Coronel was charged in a single count criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the U.S. She is also charged with helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and participating in the planning of a second prison break before Guzmán was extradited to the US.
Coronel worked with Guzmán’s sons and a witness, who is now cooperating with the United States government, to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzmán used to escape from the Altiplano prison to avoid his extradition to the United States, according to court documents. The plot also included the purchase of land near the prison, firearms and an armored truck, and the smuggling of a GPS watch so that they could “identify his exact whereabouts and build the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him.” court documents. tell.
His father, Ines Coronel Barreras, was arrested in 2013 with one of his sons and several other men in a warehouse with hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border from Douglas, Arizona. Months earlier, the United States Treasury had announced economic sanctions against his father for his alleged drug trafficking.