Crime & Justice

Wife of “El Chapo” pleads guilty to US federal drug charges

New York, Jun 10 (EFE).- The wife of imprisoned Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to introduce illegal drugs into the United States and engaging in money laundering.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, entered her plea in Washington in front of US District Judge Rudolph Contreras, who set a sentencing date of Sept. 15.

She faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $10 million.

Guzman, convicted in late 2019, is serving a sentence of life plus 30 years on convictions for drug trafficking, money laundering and ordering dozens of murders as boss of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The couple are the parents of twin daughters who will turn 10 in September.

Speaking through an interpreter, Coronel responded in the affirmative when the judge asked if she understood the consequences of her guilty plea and whether she committed the offenses described by prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi.

Once the reading of the charges was complete, Coronel uttered the word “Guilty” three times in response to the individual counts and was then heard to sob.

“The defendant aided and abetted the objectives of the Sinaloa Cartel,” Nardozzi told the court, citing Coronel’s admission that she passed messages to and from her husband when he was behind bars in Mexico.

Her assistance “allowed Guzman to resume his leadership role at the Sinaloa Cartel and in doing so, furthered the cartel’s drug trafficking business,” the prosecutor said.

Coronel was arrested in February at Dulles International Airport near Washington on suspicion of involvement in her husband’s criminal activities and has been held without bail since then.

In remarks to reporters ahead of the hearing, Coronel’s attorney said that she entered into what he described as an “arm’s length plea agreement” in a bid “to put this behind her.”

“She didn’t expect to get arrested after her husband received life in prison. So, this is obviously a troubling time. But we’re going to get past it,” Jeffrey Lichtman said.

While Coronel did not agree to cooperate with federal authorities, her lawyer said he was hopeful the judge would give her less than the minimum 10-year sentence.

The 63-year-old Guzman, who twice escaped from maximum-security prisons in Mexico, was captured in January 2016 in Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, in January 2016 and extradited to the United States on Jan. 19, 2017.

He wed former beauty queen Coronel in 2007 during the nearly 13 years he spent on the lam after a 2001 jailbreak. EFE nqs/dr

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