WASHINGTON (CN) — The wife of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera pleaded guilty on Thursday to aiding her husband in running his global drug empire and helping to plan his intricate 2015 escape from a Mexican prison.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 32, appeared this morning before a federal judge in Washington, four months after she was arrested at Dulles International Airport — the product of a nearly two-year investigation by U.S. law enforcement into the the former beauty queen's deep involvement with the Sinaloa cartel’s inner workings.
Making her arrest particularly surprising, though, was the absence of any attempt to charge Coronel in Brooklyn during her husband’s three-month trial, 2019 conviction and sentence to life plus 30 years in a U.S. federal prison.
Speaking through an interpreter Thursday, Coronel pleaded guilty to all three counts against her: conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the United States; conspiring to conduct financial transactions to distribute controlled substances; and engaging in transactions and dealings in property designated to a narcotics trafficker.
The first count holds up to life in prison and a fine up to $10 million, the second up to 20 years and $500,000 and the third up to 10 years and $250,000.
As part of her plea agreement, Coronel also admitted to conspiring to aiding in her husband’s 2015 prison escape.
Coronel, a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, controlled a vast fortune of the multibillion-dollar drug empire, and served as a go-between for years between her husband and other members of the cartel for years.
She, along with two of Guzmán’s sons and a high-ranking cartel associate, bought a plot of land near the prison, smuggled Guzmán in a GPS watch to track his exact location, and oversaw the construction of a mile-long tunnel for which Guzmán had access to under his shower. Guzmán was able to escape on a motorbike in the ventilated tunnel which led to a warehouse stocked with firearms and armored cars.
When Guzmán was arrested again a year later, Coronel began planning another escape before Guzmán was extradited to the United States.
Guzmán and Coronel have two children together.
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