The wife of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has been arrested at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport and charged with drug trafficking.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen with both U.S. and Mexican citizenship, was detained on Monday.
She will appear in court on Tuesday before Judge Harvey G. Michael, charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the U.S.
She is also accused of helping her husband in his infamous July 11, 2015 escape through a tunnel dug beneath Altiplano prison, in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico.
Mike Vigil, a former DEA agent who worked undercover in Mexico, told DailyMail.com that Coronel was ‘a narco princess’ deeply enmeshed in the world of trafficking.
Emma Coronel, the 31-year-old wife of ‘Chapo’ Guzman, was arrested on Monday
Coronel is seen leaving court in Brooklyn on July 17, 2019, after her husband was sentenced
After Guzman was re-arrested in Mexico in January 2016, she is alleged to have engaged in planning yet another prison escape, before he was eventually extradited to the U.S. in January 2017.
‘She was not a distributor, or a money launderer, or involved in logistics,’ said Vigil. ‘But she did things he ordered he to, like passing messages.
‘So did she participate? Yes.
‘But these charges are related to things that she did in the past. It’s not like she’s branching out on her own.’
Coronel is charged in a one count criminal complaint with a conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin; five kilograms or more of cocaine; 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana; and 500 grams or more of methamphetamines for unlawful importation into the U.S.
Guzman’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, told DailyMail.com he is representing Coronel.
Guzman and his wife are pictured in a courtroom sketch from January 31, 2019
For Coronel, born in California, trafficking was a family affair.
Her father Ines was a mid-ranking lieutenant in the Sinaloa Cartel, as was her brother, Omar.
FBI intercepts of Guzman’s phone showed him discussing business in 2011 with Ines Coronel Barreras, groveling to the man he repeatedly refers to as ‘senor’.
‘Make sure you delete everything every time we’re done chatting,’ Guzman reminds his wife, when she takes the phone back.
Ines and Omar were both arrested in April 2013.
Coronel had married Guzman in 2007 in La Angostura, Durango, and gave birth to their twin girls on August 15, 2011.
The girls, Emali and Maria Joaquina, were born at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California – on their birth certificates, the father’s name was left blank.
Coronel is pictured with Emali and Maria Joaquina, born in 2011, in February 2018 in New York
The wiretaps showed how intricately Coronel was involved in her husband’s business, with the pair discussing by text the price per kilo of drugs and liaising about impending police raids on their properties.
‘Our Kiki is fearless,’ Coronel writes, in January 2012.
‘I’m going to give her an AK-47 so she can hang with me.’
On January 24, 2012, he tells her: ‘Love, whenever you guys see suspicious-looking cars let me know right away so I can get them checked out, love.’
She says that the security team saw some strange vehicles, but ‘they were told they were from the government’.
He replies: ‘I am told that they are following you, darling. You just go ahead and lead a normal life, that’s it. They just want to see if you are coming to where I am.’
A week or so later, she says that she’s been told her home will soon be raided.
‘Let me check and see what’s going on,’ he replied. ‘Do you have a gun?’
She replies that she has one he gave her.
Shortly after, he responds: ‘They are doing a thorough check for me.’
She remarks: ‘I hope it won’t be today. I have a headache.’
Coronel remained influential after her husband’s arrest, according to the court documents filed in Washington on Monday.
They allege that she helped with plans to break him out of jail, in particular before he was extradited to the United States – from where, they knew, it would be impossible to secure his release.
During his trial, Coronel was a constant presence – the drug lord waving goofily at her across the courtroom, and blowing kisses.
She sat through hours of testimony from his former mistresses, and from former associates who turned against him.
Coronel herself treated the trial as a fashion parade, turning up every day in a striking new outfit. She announced afterwards that she was launching a fashion collection.
In November 2019 Coronel was in talks to join the VH1 reality series Cartel Crew.
TMZ obtained photos of her on a yacht, as another cast member – Michael Corleone Blanco, son of Colombian drug dealer Griselda Blanco – pulled up alongside her boat.
The series ended in December 2019, however, and it does not appear that she filmed any scenes beyond the yacht one.
Coronel is accused in the court documents of having been in contact with Guzman’s sons, known as ‘Chapitos’, who are currently believed to be running the Sinaloa Cartel.
The sons – Ivan, Jesus, Ovidio and Joaquin Jr – are all referenced in the charging documents.
Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the DEA, who spent 20 years infiltrating Mexican and Colombian cartels, told DailyMail.com that investigators would now be trying to use Coronel to entrap other, bigger, fish.
Coronel, said Vigil, will be pressed as to the whereabouts of the sons and of Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, the 73-year-old who was Guzman’s right-hand-man.
‘They have cooperating witnesses who claim that she was liaising with the sons,’ he said.
‘And they know that she is very devoted to her daughters, so she won’t want to be separated from them.
‘They’ll be really pressuring her to flip.’