Wife of drug kingpin "El Chapo" ordered to stay in jail after arrest at Dulles airport, judge says

 


A U.S. judge ordered the wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to remain behind bars Tuesday after she was charged with helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire.


Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, appeared by video conference for an initial court appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Washington, D.C. She was arrested Monday at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.


When asked by the judge if she understood what was happening, Coronel said through the interpreter: “I understood everything very well, thank you.”


At the hearing, prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi alleged that 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.


Coronel’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he would consent to her temporary detention.


Colonel’s arrest was a surprise in part because authorities made no move to arrest her over the past two years, even after she was implicated in her husband’s crimes. During Guzman’s 2019 trial, prosecutors said she helped orchestrate Guzman’s two prison breaks in Mexico — audacious escapes that raised serious questions about whether Mexico’s justice system was capable of holding him accountable.


He is now serving life in prison in the United States.


Colonel was a fixture at her husband’s three-month trial, which took place in New York. The two, separated in age by more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007, and their twin daughters were born in 2011.


As Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Guzman ran a cartel responsible for smuggling cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors say. They also said his “army of sicarios,” or “hit men,” was under orders to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who got in his way.


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