The wife of Mexican drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman pleaded guilty Thursday to drug trafficking and money laundering charges related to her husband’s narcotics empire.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, entered her plea in a federal court in Washington nearly two years after Guzman was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise as well as drug trafficking and firearms charges as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.
A former beauty queen with an interest in fashion, Coronel wore a green prison uniform and white face covering Thursday as she told US District Judge Rudolph Contreras that she understood and accepted her plea agreement.
Her attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said before the hearing that Coronel — who married Guzman in 2007 — hoped to some day get back to their young twin daughters.
“This is an arm’s length plea agreement,” Lichtman said. “She’s happy to take responsibility … (to) get on with her life.”
Coronel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine for importation into the US; conspiracy to launder monetary instruments; and engaging in transactions and dealings of a designated significant foreign narcotics trafficking organization.
“The defendant aided and abetted the objectives of the Sinaloa Cartel,” Anthony Nardozzi, Deputy Chief of Litigation at the Justice Department, told the court.
“And it allowed Guzman to resume his leadership role at the Sinaloa Cartel and in doing so, furthered the cartel’s drug trafficking business.”
The complaint at the time of her arrest cited her alleged involvement in Guzman’s 2015 escape from a Mexican prison.
Guzman, who formerly ran the Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted on 10 counts including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs, and use of firearms. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years, and is currently being held in Colorado’s Supermax prison.
In Guzman’s trial, a cooperating witness testified that Coronel and others worked together to coordinate details of Guzman’s last escape from prison in Mexico and that Coronel would often relay messages from Guzman in prison to others.