Wife of 'El Chapo' Learns Her Fate

Emma Coronel sentenced to 3 years on drug charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 30, 2021 5:14 PM CST
Wife of 'El Chapo' Learns Her Fate
This photo provided by the Alexandria Adult Detention Center shows Emma Coronel Aispuro.   (Alexandria Adult Detention Center via AP)

(Newser) – The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison after pleading guilty to helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire. Emma Coronel Aispuro also helped her husband plan a dramatic escape through a tunnel dug underneath a prison in Mexico in 2015 by smuggling a GPS watch to him disguised as a food item, prosecutors said during a hearing in federal court in Washington. That helped those digging the tunnel pinpoint his location and reach him. The leader of the Sinaloa cartel was recaptured the following year.

Prosecutors had asked for four years in prison, but US District Judge Rudolph Contreras imposed a shorter term, saying her role was a small piece of a much larger organization, the AP reports. Her arrest doesn’t seem to have reduced the harm caused by the cartel, he said. "There appears to be no shortage of willing participants," the judge said. She had faced a minimum of 10 years in prison, but was subject to a so-called "safety valve" provision because she had no criminal record, was not considered a leader and was not involved with violence. Defense attorneys also pointed out she was a 17-year-old from an impoverished family when she met Guzman and married him on her 18th birthday.

"This began when she was a very impressionable minor married to a powerful man more than three decades older," attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said. Coronel Aispuro expressed "true regret for any and all harm" as she spoke through a Spanish translator in court. "I am here before you, asking for forgiveness," she said. She asked for a sentence that would allow her to watch her 9-year-old twin daughters grow up. She previously pleaded guilty to three federal offenses as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. She also surrendered $1.5 million. The charges include knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine for several years. She also pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy charge and to engaging in transactions with a foreign narcotics trafficker. (Read more Emma Coronel stories.)

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