Wife of drug lord ‘El Chapo’ arrested in Virginia on drug charges in the United States

The Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo – “Shorty” – is said to have first met the elegant teenage daughter of one of his lieutenants at a small town dance. In love, she later threw a lavish party to support her bid to become the queen of beauty pageants.

She was only 18 years old, and more than three decades his junior, when they married in 2007 in the town of La Angostura, deep in the Sierra Madre and in the heart of Mexico’s so-called Golden Triangle of heroin production.

Years later, dressed in designer clothes and pointed heels, she was a daily presence that pleased the paparazzi when Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán faced his legal trial in the United States District Court in Brooklyn as leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

On Monday, US authorities arrested Emma Coronel Aispuro at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, alleging that she was more than the loyal and fashion-conscious wife of the world’s most famous narco.

Reflecting some of the allegations that murdered her husband, Coronel, a citizen of both the United States and Mexico, faces charges of participation in a broad conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the United States.

After Guzmán was jailed in Mexico, says an FBI affidavit, his wife acted as an “intermediary and messenger,” relaying his orders to his lieutenants and their four children, all of whom are allegedly members of a high-ranking cartel.

U.S. authorities allege that she aided in his sensational prison break in 2015, when Guzmán dropped down a hole dug under the shower in his Mexican cell and hopped on a rail-mounted motorcycle, which led him to freedom in through a mile-long tunnel.

Coronel allegedly met with Guzman’s son to discuss the plan, which had involved the purchase of land and a warehouse near the prison, along with firearms and an armored truck, according to an FBI affidavit.

Guzmán was captured six months later in the city of Los Mochis, on the Pacific coast, Mexico.

The FBI said his wife later helped organize a second escape plan for which a Guzmán accomplice received about $ 1 million, and told a “cooperating witness” that a senior prison official had received $ 2. million to help. The head of the prison was not identified.

But that plan never came true. Guzmán was extradited to the United States in January 2017.

A United States district judge in New York sentenced Guzmán to life in prison in July 2019 after a jury found him guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy to commit murder.

Prosecutors also sought an order demanding that Guzmán hand over more than $ 12.6 billion in assets, his approximation of his drug earnings over the decades. His lawyers called the request absurd and said it had nothing like that.

With her husband in United States custody, Coronel has been a frequent poster on Instagram and an occasional visitor to the United States.

In September 2018, as Guzmán and his attorneys prepared for trial in New York, photos surfaced on Instagram detailing a birthday party that Coronel threw for the couple’s twin daughters, who were born in 2011 at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster.

The decadent party featured carnival rides, hundreds of pink balloons, and a set with gold chandeliers and a pink-hued throne.

Coronel wore 4-inch heels and posed in front of a faux pink mansion and a long table covered in flowers, desserts and a towering birthday cake.

The following year, as Guzmán, 64, awaited sentencing, Coronel said on Instagram that she was launching a fashion line inspired by her husband’s style. His image – square jaw, small eyes, black mustache – is stamped on caps, T-shirts and posters in Mexico, especially in his home state of Sinaloa, where he is considered by many to be a hero and a Robin Hood figure who helped the poor.

At court, Coronel was a spectacle and an enigma in equal measure. She spent almost every day of her husband’s trial in the second row of the gallery, silent but impossible to miss.

In opening remarks, the couple had not had any direct contact in two years. Still, her request that she be allowed to hold him once before the trial began was denied.

Guzmán was looking for her from the moment he was taken to the courtroom every day. The couple used to wave and flirt, sometimes to the dismay of US District Judge Brian Cogan.

When he brought his twins to court, Guzmán couldn’t take his eyes off them. Coronel often complained to her husband’s lawyers about his ties, his expression, his health.

Although he rarely spoke to the press, he never shied away from the cameras outside of court. Her stylish outfits – designer jeans, sky-high stilettos, military blazers, and velvet bodysuit – attracted a lot of attention, and she was picky about her makeup. But suspicion hung over her.

His uncle, Ignacio Coronel, the so-called Rey de Cristal for his involvement in smuggling methamphetamine to the United States, was killed in a 2010 shootout with the Mexican army. He was said to be number three in the hierarchy of the Sinaloa cartel. The authorities allege that Coronel’s father, who is currently in prison in Mexico, “coordinated the transport of narcotics” for the Sinaloa cartel.

During the trial, many speculated that she was more involved in her husband’s business than she revealed. She was forced to go through the metal detector twice before a sensitive witness was brought in to testify, fearing she might smuggle a cell phone to take a picture of her.

As the weeks passed, Colonel couldn’t hide his boredom. She fidgeted in her seat and played with her long hair, and was scolded for using her attorney’s phone in the courtroom.

Her arrest reverberated on social media, especially in Mexico, where many jokingly suggested that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would help her return to Mexico, as he did in the case of a former Mexican defense chief arrested in Los Angeles. last year for alleged drug trafficking.

“Don’t worry Emma,” former President Vicente Fox wrote on Twitter. “The president will come to the rescue !!”

McDonnell reported from Mexico City and Sharp from Los Angeles. Times editors Kate Linthicum in Mexico City, Tracy Wilkinson in Washington, and special correspondent Cecilia Sánchez in Mexico City also contributed to this report.

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