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U.S. arrests wife of ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán on international drug-trafficking charge at Dulles Airport

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of “El Chapo,” was arrested Feb. 22 on charges related to her alleged involvement in drug trafficking, officials said. (Video: Reuters)

The wife of Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, the infamous drug lord known as “El Chapo,” was arrested Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on charges related to her alleged involvement in international drug trafficking and her husband’s dramatic prison escapes, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the United States with Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel, U.S. authorities said.

In a preliminary hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Robin M. Meriweather ruled that Aispuro will remain detained without bond pending trial. Her defense counsel reserved the right to seek further review of her bail status. A trial date has not been set.

The department alleged that Coronel Aispuro conspired with others to assist Guzmán’s July 2015 escape from Mexico’s notorious Altiplano prison and engaged in planning another escape with others before Guzman’s extradition in January 2017.

Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison in federal court in Brooklyn in July 2019.

An attorney for Coronel Aispuro could not be located for comment on Monday. She grew up in Sinaloa state, the traditional heart of Mexico’s illegal drug industry, but was born in California, making her a U.S. citizen. She slipped over the border in 2011 to give birth to the couple’s twin daughters, Maria Joaquina and Emali, in a Los Angeles County hospital.

Coronel Aispuro and the couple’s mythologized marriage gained notoriety during the trial, which she attended daily, at times blowing kisses to her husband from the reserved second-row seat. She cut a glamorous figure, in stiletto heels and oversized sunglasses.

Coronel Aispuro is a former beauty queen who was introduced at age 17 to El Chapo, then 49. She is the daughter of Coronel Barreras, a Sinaloa cartel lieutenant later sentenced to prison for trafficking drugs and firearms. Her uncle, Ignacio “Nacho” Colonel, was at one time a partner of El Chapo’s.

Coronel Aisparo says that when she met her future husband, she had no idea he was involved in drug-trafficking, and she continued to maintain his innocence for years. Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel played a major role in the violence that has left more than 300,000 Mexicans dead over the past 15 years. But in a 2016 interview with Telemundo, his wife said that “of course he is not violent.”

Prosecutors said her husband periodically messaged her while he was on the run from Mexican authorities and allegedly referred to the logistics of drug trafficking.

Emily Davies contributed to this report.