El Chapo's Wife Ordered to Remain Behind Bars on International Drug Trafficking Charges: DOJ

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, wife of notorous drug kingpin, 'El Chapo' arrested
The Department of Justice

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Monday.

The wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, leader of the drug trafficking organization Sinaloa and considered "the world's most powerful drug trafficker," was ordered held without bail pending trial on Tuesday for alleged international drug trafficking and her alleged role in helping run her husband’s criminal drug empire, authorities said

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, who has dual citizenship from the United States and Mexico, was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport on Monday. A day later Coronel appeared via video conference for her arraignment before a federal magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C.

During the virtual hearing, prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said Coronel “worked closely with the command- and -control structure of the Sinaloa cartel and conspired to distribute large quantities of drugs, knowing they would be smuggled into the U.S." If convicted, she could face more than 10 years in prison, the Associated Press reported

Nardozzi also said Coronel had access to criminal associates, including other members of the cartel, and "financial means to generate a serious flight risk,' the news outlet reported.

Coronel’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he would consent to her temporary detention while maintaining their right to request a future bond hearing, Fox News reported

During the hearing, Coronel-Aispuro spoke only briefly, and told the judge through a Spanish translator that she "understood everything very well."  

Coronel is charged in a one-count criminal complaint with a 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 in a statement before Tuesday's arraignment.

Lichtman, who also represented Guzmán, declined to comment on Coronel’s arrest, The New York Times reported.

During Guzman's 2019 trail, prosecutors alleged that Coronel helped orchestrate two prison breaks in Mexico- one from a Mexican prison in 2015 and her participation in a second prison break with others prior to his extradition to the U.S. in January 2017, the AP reported. 

According to court documents filed by prosecutors, 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 alleged plot also 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.

During Guzman's three-month-long trial, Coronel was a regular fixture in the New York federal courtroom and spoke out in support of her husband. In July 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison, according to reports.

Her arrest is the latest blow to the Guzman cartel family. El Chapo, 63, was a longtime leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel who founded his own cartel in 1988 after the arrest of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, a notorious drug lord in the 1980s, according to reports. 

Part of Guzman’s alleged success of his multinational operation was executed by his use of distribution cells and long-range tunnels near borders, which enabled him to export more drugs to the United States, than allegedly any other trafficker in history, according to reports. 

Between 2009 and 2013, Forbes ranked him as one of the most powerful people in the world. In 2014, after 13 years on the lam, Guzman was found and arrested with the help of U.S. and Mexican authorities, The Washington Post reported.

Coronel, a former teenage beauty queen, married Guzman in 2007 when she was 17. The couple has twin daughters. Guzman also has four older sons who are allegedly involved in the family business, according to published reports. In 2019, one of the sons, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, was involved in a street gunfight and Mexican police were forced to release him, Inside Edition Digital reported. He is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges, NPR reported

Coronel currently behind bars at an Alexandria jail that houses federal inmates for the US Marshal Service, a spokesperson for the local sheriff’s office said, according to The New York Post.