US authorities arrested Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexico’s most notorious cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in Virginia on drug trafficking charges on Monday.
The statement released by the US justice department said that Coronel, a dual US-Mexican citizen, was arrested at Dulles international airport and is expected to make her initial appearance in federal court on Tuesday via video conference.
According to court documents, Coronel is charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana for importation into the US.
It's the latest twist in the long-running international chase of Guzman and entangling the huge drug cartel. She has been charged with allegedly conspiring to help arrange Guzmán’s spectacular escape through a mile-long tunnel from the high-security Altiplano prison in Mexico in July 2015.
Court papers say that Coronel worked with Guzmán’s sons to organize the escape plot, which included buying a plot of land near the prison, firearms, and an armored truck and smuggling the imprisoned cartel chief a GPS watch to ensure the escape tunnel reached his cell.
“After Guzmán was re-arrested in Mexico in January 2016, Coronel Aispuro is alleged to have engaged in planning yet another prison escape with others prior to Guzmán’s extradition to the US in January 2017,” the statement said.
Guzmán was sentenced to life plus 30 years at his trial in New York in 2019.
Throughout the trial, Coronel attended court every day, even when evidence included text messages between her husband and one of his mistresses.
Before her husband’s sentencing, she told a sympathetic TV interviewer that Guzmán was a “humble” man and complained that the media had made El Chapo “too famous”.
Her arrest is likely to further complicate relations between the administrations of Joe Biden and his Mexican counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador and comes as security cooperation between Mexico and the United States appears to have cooled.
US anti-drug agents worked closely on El Chapo’s arrests in Mexico, where he long evaded the law and became a sort of antihero in his home state of Sinaloa and beyond.
Emma Coronel was born in Santa Clara, California, and is the daughter of Ines Coronel Barreras, a medium-ranking lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel.
She grew up in the “Golden Triangle” of Mexico’s Sierra Madre and reportedly met Guzmán at a local festival when she was 17 while Guzman was 51. They went on to have nine-year-old twin daughters.
Despite the fame, El Chapo kept a low profile while his wife was constantly on media and even reality television shows. This arrest is the latest among arrest of many other drug lords taking place recently