Thu | Dec 2, 2021

El Chapo’s wife to remain in jail

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2021 | 12:20 AM
Emma Coronel Aispuro.
Emma Coronel Aispuro.

WASHINGTON (AP):

A federal judge has ordered the wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman to remain temporarily jailed after she was arrested and accused of helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar cartel and plotting his audacious escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, appeared by video conference for an initial court appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Washington, DC. The judge’s order came after Coronel’s attorney, Jeffrey Licthman, said he would consent to her temporary detention after her arrest at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

US Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather explained the charges to Coronel, who spoke to the judge through a Spanish interpreter. She said prosecutors had provided sufficient reason to keep Coronel behind bars for now and noted that her attorney had consented to the temporary detention.

Prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said the US government believed that Coronel should remain jailed, arguing that she “worked closely with the command-and-control structure” of the Sinaloa cartel, particularly with her husband. Nardozzi said she conspired to distribute large quantities of drugs, knowing that they would be illegally smuggled into the US.

Nardozzi said Coronel had access to criminal associates, including other members of the cartel, and “financial means to generate a serious risk of flight”. If convicted, she could face more than 10 years in prison.

Her arrest was the latest twist in the bloody, multinational saga involving Guzman, the long-time head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Guzman, whose two dramatic prison escapes in Mexico fed into a legend that he and his family were all but untouchable, was extradited to the United States in 2017 and is serving life in prison.

And now his wife, with whom he has two young daughters, has been charged with helping him run his criminal empire. In a single-count criminal complaint, Coronel was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the US. The Justice Department also accused her of helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and participating in the planning of a second prison escape before Guzman was extradited to the US.

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