Dulles, VA – The wife of notorious drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was arrested on international drug trafficking charges at Dulles International Airport on Monday.
According to court documents, 31-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro has been federally charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the U.S., the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release announcing her arrest.
Coronel Aispuro, a U.S.-Mexican dual citizen from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, has also been accused of conspiring to help Guzman, 63, in his successful escape from the Altiplano prison in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico back on July 11, 2015.
Investigators allege Guzman’s wife spearheaded the plot, which involved digging a nearly one-mile-long tunnel that came up inside his prison cell shower, The New York Times reported.
The former beauty queen is further accused of having helped plan her husband’s second prison escape in January of 2017.
According to court documents, Coronel Aispuro relayed messages for her husband from 2012 until 2014 that helped him to facilitate drug shipments while evading capture by both U.S. and Mexican authorities, The New York Times reported.
She was heavily involved in his illegal trafficking dealings for many years, according to investigators.
Coronel Aispuro is due to make her initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.
Jeffrey Lichtman, the attorney for both Coronel Aispuro and Guzman, refused to comment on the arrest, The New York Times reported.
Coronel Aispuro’s father, Ines Coronel Barreras, was a key member of the Sinaloa Cartel, according to NPR.
She married Guzman in 2007, when she was just 17.
The couple has two twin daughters, NPR reported.
In February of 2019, the once-powerful Sinaloa Cartel leader was convicted for his role in a violent, massive drug-trafficking empire that funneled billions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs into the U.S. for nearly three decades.
Prosecutors estimated that Guzman was responsible for shipping over 200 tons of cocaine to the U.S. during that time, and said he had also carried out a slew of brutal murders and political payoffs, NBC News reported.
A federal jury found Guzman guilty of multiple counts, including use of firearms, operating and continuing a criminal enterprise, and conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, the New York Post reported at the time.
During his sentencing hearing, Guzman complained to Brooklyn Federal Judge Brian Cogan about the supposed “physical, emotional, and mental torture,” he has suffered since being extradited to the U.S.
One of his attorneys, Eduardo Balarezo, translated Guzman’s statement for the court.
“In order to sleep, I have to clog my ears with toilet paper because of the air from the air duct,” the drug lord whined. “My wife has not been allowed to this day to visit me. I have not been allowed to hug my daughters.”
“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water,” he lamented. “I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only sunlight I have in my cell comes through in the air vent.”
Guzman alleged that he did not receive a fair trial, and said that several of the jury members who found him guilty had violated the court’s order not to read social media or news reports about the charges against him, the New York Post reported.
“I was extradited to the US to have a fair trial, where justice would be blind to my fame and would not be a defining factor in the administration of justice,” he complained. “But what happened was actually the opposite.”
Guzman told the court that “there was no justice” in his case, which he said was “stained” by corruption.
“You denied me a fair trial while the whole world was watching,” the former cartel leader declared. “The United States is no better than any other corrupt country.”
Moments later, the judge imposed the minimum sentence of life in prison, plus 30 years for unlawful use of firearms.
He also ordered Guzman to forfeit $12.6 billion, plus restitution.