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Wife of 'El Chapo' to remain behind bars on drug trafficking charges, federal judge orders

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, a Mexican drug lord who has repeatedly escaped from prison, was convicted after a jury trial in 2019 and sentenced to life plus 30 years in a US prison.

Posted: Feb 23, 2021 1:59 AM
Updated: Feb 23, 2021 12:30 PM


The wife of drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán Loera will remain behind bars following her arrest in Virginia on federal drug trafficking charges, a District of Columbia magistrate judge ruled Tuesday.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen from Mexico, was apprehended at Dulles International Airport on Monday, according to the US Justice Department.

Coronel faces 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 Justice Department statement.

Coronel made her first appearance via video conference in US District Court in the nation's capital Tuesday, and her attorneys consented to her continued detention in Alexandria, Virginia.

District of Columbia Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather agreed that Coronel's attorneys reserve the right to seek further review of her bail status.

Federal prosecutors requested her continued detention based what they said was Coronel's alleged close work with the command of the Sinaloa cartel.

Prosecutors maintained that while Coronel has dual citizenship in Mexico and the US, she had no ties to Washington and the financial means and contacts to flee the area.

If convicted of all charges, Coronel faces 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.

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 internationally.

The complaint said 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.

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,' Colon said Monday.

Lichtman told CNN he had no comment.

The date of Coronel's next hearing has not been set.

After Guzmán's third arrest in 2016, he was under tight watch. He was eventually extradited 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.

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