El Chapo’s wife sentenced to 3 years in prison

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Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of the infamous Mexican drug lord best known as El Chapo, was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison on charges of helping run her husband’s multi-billion dollar criminal empire and playing a part in his escape from custody after being captured in 2014.

Ms. Coronel, a former beauty queen who married El Chapo in 2007, on her 18th birthday — whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera — was arrested at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, in February, two years after her husband died. convicted at a trial in New York City and sentenced to life in prison.

She had been in the crosshairs of the US authorities for months. She finally pleaded guilty in June to helping Mr Guzmán smuggle drugs across the US border and making his dramatic escape from a high-security Mexican prison, an operation that involved a self-propelled train car, a watch equipped with a GPS device. and dug a mile-long tunnel in the shower of his cell.

A doubly American-Mexican citizen, Ms. Coronel, like her husband, has long been a figure of public fascination, a role she has often fueled by her lavish lifestyle and laissez-faire attitude toward paparazzi. During her hearing in the Federal District Court in Washington, she expressed “real regret” for her crimes and pleaded with Judge Rudolph Contreras to ignore the fact that she was the wife of a notorious drug lord.

“Perhaps that’s why you should be tougher on me,” said Mrs. Coronel. “But I pray you don’t.”

While it is unusual for law enforcement to go after the husbands of drug figures, prosecutors provided substantial evidence during the Guzmán trial that, while still in her 20s, Ms Coronel was deeply entangled in the criminal business. from her husband.

For example, they introduced BlackBerry messages that made it clear that she had helped Mr. Guzmán carry out his illegal operations, sometimes alongside her own father, Inés Coronel Barreras, who was one of her husband’s top lieutenants and in 2013 in Mexico. was taken into custody. .

Other reports indicated that Mrs. Coronel was deeply involved not only in the famous 2015 escape of Mr. Guzmán from Altiplano prison in Toluca, Mexico, but also in helping to escape capture by the US and Mexican authorities after a failed 2012 raid on the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas.

During Mr Guzmán’s trial, his former chief of staff, Dámaso López Núñez, told the jury that Ms Coronel had tried again to help her husband escape from prison after he was recaptured in 2016 and returned to Altiplano. According to Mr. López, Ms. Coronel plotted to bribe Mexico’s top prison official, but Mr Guzmán was extradited to the United States to face trial before the plan could be implemented.

As part of her plea deal with the government, Ms. Coronel agreed to transfer approximately $1.5 million in illicit proceeds from her husband’s illegal activities. Although she admitted to helping him transport at least 450 pounds of cocaine, 90 pounds of heroin, and nearly 90,000 pounds of marijuana to the United States over the years, she was given a relatively light sentence, in part because of her role in smuggling even those amount of drugs made her a “minimal participant” in a much larger criminal enterprise, according to her plea deal.

“The defendant was not an organizer, leader, boss or other type of manager,” Anthony J. Nardozzi, a federal prosecutor, told the court. “She was rather a cog in a very large wheel of a criminal organization.”

After Ms. Coronel’s arrest, there was widespread speculation that she – like so many of Guzmán’s former allies – had decided to cooperate with US authorities against other members of the organization he once led, the Sinaloa drug cartel. But in court papers filed this month, prosecutors said she had only helped the government prosecute her own case.

Coronel’s attorney Jeffrey Lichtman called the allegations she had collaborated with the government “garbage,” adding that they had endangered his client’s life. “I don’t know if she’ll ever be able to go back to her home in Mexico,” Mr. Lichtman said.

The Sinaloa cartel remains one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal mafia, even in the absence of Mr Guzmán. It is said to be run by an uneasy alliance of his sons, one of his brothers, and his longtime partner, Ismael Zambada García, all of whom have been indicted in the United States.

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