The wife of notorious longtime drug kingpin “El Chapo” on Tuesday was ordered held without bond pending trial, one day after she was arrested at Dulles International Airport for alleged international drug trafficking.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old dual U.S.-Mexican citizen and the wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, appeared via video conference for the 12 p.m. arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C. The judge’s order came after Coronel Aispuro’s attorney, Jeffrey Licthman, said he would consent to her temporary detention, while maintaining their right to request a future bond hearing.
Coronel Aispuro spoke only briefly – with a quick, “Si,” and “No,” when prompted by the judge during the hearing. She faces a charge 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 U.S., the Justice Department said.
She allegedly did so “knowing and intending that the substances would be unlawfully imported to the United States,” prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said.
Nardozzi argued that Coronel Aispuro should stay behind bars because she has “worked closely with the command and control structure” of the Sinaloa cartel.
“Most notably with her husband, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the leader of the cartel prior to his extradition and subsequent conviction in the United States,” Nardozzi added. “The defendant has access to criminal associates who are members of the Sinaloa cartel as well as the financial means to generate a serious risk of flight … Further, she has no direct ties to the Washington, D.C., area.”
She faces a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted, with a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The former beauty queen was accused of helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar cartel and plot his audacious escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.
Guzman, with whom Coronel Aispuro has two children, is the longtime head of the Sinaloa drug cartel who is now serving life in prison. His two dramatic prison escapes in Mexico fed into a legend that he and his family were all but untouchable – until he was extradited to the United States in 2017.
Court papers charge that Coronel 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 his extradition 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.
She regularly attended Guzman’s trial, even when testimony implicated her in his prison breaks. The two, separated in age by more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007, and their twin daughters 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 her father for his alleged drug trafficking.
After Guzman was rearrested following his escape, Coronel lobbied the Mexican government to improve her husband’s prison conditions. And after he was convicted in 2019, she moved to launch a clothing line in his name.
Fox News’ Lucas Manfredi contributed to this report, as well as the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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