The wife of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera was arrested Monday in Virginia on charges related to her alleged involvement in international drug trafficking, the Justice Department announced.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, was apprehended at Dulles International Airport and is facing charges of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, five kilograms or more of cocaine, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and 500 grams or more of methamphetamines for unlawful importation into the country, according to a news release from the Justice Department.
According to a criminal complaint, “there is probable cause to believe that, from at least in or about 2014 and at least on or about January 19, 2017, Coronel did knowingly, intentionally, and willfully conspired with Guzmán and others” to distribute drugs.
The complaint says the FBI believes she took messages from Guzmán to his lieutenants, associates and four sons before and while El Chapo was in a Mexican prison.
Coronel, a dual citizen of the US and Mexico, is expected to make her initial appearance Tuesday in US District Court in Washington, DC, via video conference.
Prosecutors said Coronel conspired with others to assist her husband in his July 11, 2015, escape from a prison in Mexico. After Guzmán was rearrested in Mexico in January 2016, his wife is alleged to have engaged in planning yet another prison escape before he was extradited to the United States in January 2017, officials said.
Guzmán — who prosecutors said headed a global narcotics empire greased for decades with corruption and violence — was convicted after a jury trial in 2019, and sentenced to life plus 30 years in federal prison.
Jeffrey Lichtman and Mariel Colon told CNN they are representing Coronel.
“We’re just trying to get the full scope of the government allegations at this time,” said Colon.
Lichtman told CNN he had no comment.
After Guzmán’s third arrest in 2016, he was under tight watch. He was brought to New York, where he remained through his trial and sentencing.
Security surrounding Guzmán’s trial was so tight that the Brooklyn Bridge was shut down each week to allow Guzmán to be transferred in a motorcade — complete with a helicopter escort — from a federal detention center to the courthouse in Brooklyn for his months-long trial.
While Guzmán was on trial, his communications were limited to members of his legal team and his sister, with occasional visits from his twin daughters. He was not allowed to meet with Coronel.
After he was convicted by a jury, he signed away the rights to his name so that Coronel, a former beauty queen with an interest in fashion, could start an El Chapo-branded clothing line.
A regular presence at her husband’s trial, she was often swarmed by media reporting on her fashion choices in court. And one day she and Guzmán wore matching velvet jackets.
He is expected to serve out his sentence in the nation’s most secure federal prison in Florence, Colorado.
Guzmán and Coronel have been married since 2007. The FBI alleges in the complaint that her father, Ines, was a member of Guzmán’s drug cartel.