El Chapo’s wife gets three years in prison for aiding cartel

Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of the notorious drug lord "El Chapo," leaves Brooklyn Federal Court surrounded by body guards after her husband was sentenced to life plus 30 years in New York on July 17, 2019. (Jesse Ward/New York Daily News/TNS)
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David Yaffe-Bellany and Christian Berthelsen Bloomberg News (TNS)

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, was sentenced to three years in prison for aiding her husband’s operation while he was in custody.

The sentence imposed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington was shorter than the four years that prosecutors had requested. The former beauty queen will also be credited with the nine months that she’s already been in custody.

The judge noted that Coronel, 32, was the mother of young children when he handed down his sentence. “The defendant is going to have to participate in raising her 9-year-old twins because their father will not be able to do so, given his long-term incarceration,” he said. Guzman is serving a life sentence at a maximum-security facility in Colorado.

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Coronel was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Feb. 22 and pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute drugs and launder the proceeds. As part of her plea deal, she agreed to turn over $1.5 million in criminal proceeds in her possession.

Prosecutors said Coronel participated in the criminal activities of the Sinaloa cartel, which Guzman led. They noted she played a key role in aiding her husband’s brazen escape from Mexico’s Altiplano prison in 2015, smuggling a GPS watch concealed as a food item to him in jail, so workmen were able to pinpoint the precise location of his cell when they dug the tunnel he used to escape. He was re-captured the following year.

But prosecutors also conceded she played a minor role in Guzman’s overall trafficking operation, limited mostly to passing letters from him to subordinates and delivering bribes to prison officials, and that she immediately accepted responsibility for her actions when she was arrested.

‘Asking Forgiveness’

Coronel married Guzman in about 2007, when she was 17. After he was extradited to the U.S. in 2017, she became a fixture in the courtroom during her husband’s three-month trial in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. He was convicted in 2019 on a host of charges including drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder.

Her defense lawyers pointed out that Coronel was still a minor when she began dating Guzman, who is more than three decades her senior, in arguing for a reduced sentence. Coronel also addressed the judge in Spanish through an interpreter, saying she hoped the judge would not be harsh because of her marriage to Guzman.

“I am suffering as a result of the pain that I’ve caused my family,” she said. “I am here before you asking for forgiveness.”

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