The wife of infamous convicted drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was arrested Monday for her alleged role in an international drug trafficking scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, a citizen of both Mexico and the U.S., was nabbed at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C., the Department of Justice said in a press release. The 31-year-old Coronel Aispuro was charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana into the U.S., the DOJ said.
She also allegedly conspired with others to help El Chapo in his escape from a Mexican prison in July 2015. In that breakout, Guzman broke free via an entry under the shower in his cell to a milelong lighted tunnel with a motorcycle on rails.
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Court papers charge that Coronel Aispuro worked with Guzman’s sons and a witness, who is now cooperating with the U.S. government, to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzman used to escape from the Altiplano prison to prevent him from being extradited to the U.S. The plot included purchasing a piece of land near the prison, firearms and an armored truck and smuggling him a GPS watch so they could “pinpoint his exact whereabouts so as to construct the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him,” the court papers say.
After her husband was arrested once again the following year, Coronel Aispuro was "engaged in planning yet another prison escape" before Guzman was extradited to the U.S. in 2017. After Guzman was rearrested following his escape, Coronel Aispuro lobbied the Mexican government to improve her husband’s prison conditions.
Coronel Aispuro is scheduled to appear in Washington D.C. federal court Tuesday. She remained in custody, and it was not immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
The former teen beauty queen regularly attended Guzman’s trial, even when testimony cast her in a harsh light. The two, separated in age by more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007 and share twin daughters, who were born in 2011.
Her 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 U.S. Treasury had announced financial sanctions against Coronel Barreras for his alleged drug trafficking.
Guzman was tried in the Eastern District of New York in 2019 and sentenced to life behind bars in a massive drug conspiracy that spread murder and mayhem for more than two decades. After he was convicted in 2019, Coronel Aispuro moved to launch a clothing line in his name.
He was known to be the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, which was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in recent court papers. They also said his “army of sicarios,” or “hit men,” was under orders to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who got in his way.