Wife of “El Chapo” will continue to be detained in jail

A US judge ordered on Tuesday that Emma Coronel, the wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, remain in custody awaiting trial after being charged with drug trafficking and helping her husband escape from prison in 2015.

Coronel, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, appeared by videoconference before a Washington city judge. The woman faces charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana in the United States.

Coronel, a US and Mexican citizen, was detained at Dulles International Airport, in the state of Virginia, on Monday, and transferred to the Alexandria Detention Center, in that same state.

His arrest is the latest episode in a bloody saga involving Guzmán, a former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán became a legend due to two escapes from Mexican jails that surprised the world and gave him an image of invincible before the authorities. In 2017, however, he was extradited to the United States.

Judge Robin Meriweather ordered that Colonel remain in temporary custody while his attorney Jeffrey Lichtman explores a possible request for bail. Lichtman said he was agreeing to temporary detention.

During the hearing, it was mentioned that the case would be sent to an investigative jury that would impose the formal accusations.

Prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi asked the judge for the arrest warrant after ensuring that Coronel conspired with others to traffic drugs to the United States. He also said that it was necessary for Coronel to remain in jail because he worked closely with the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel and because “he has the financial means to be a serious flight risk.”

The judge read the charges to the defendant, her rights and also told her that if she is found guilty she faces a minimum of a decade in prison and a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

At the end of the hearing, he asked her if she had understood everything through a Spanish interpreter. “I understood everything very well, thank you,” said Coronel.

Coronel is accused of having joined others in helping Guzmán escape from the Altiplano prison in Almoloya de Juárez, Mexico, in July 2015, US prosecutors say.

After Guzmán was re-arrested in Mexico in January 2016, Coronel allegedly again planned, along with others, another escape attempt for her husband. Guzmán, however, was extradited a year later.

Guzmán was accused of trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine and other drugs to the United States for at least 25 years. He also led an army of hitmen who tortured and murdered rivals and anyone who represented risks to his drug trafficking, say the US authorities.

Coronel appeared every day at her husband’s trial – held in the Eastern District Court of New York – in late 2018 and the first two months of 2019 and was captured by television cameras every time she entered or left the building of the court in Brooklyn. Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison.

According to an affidavit issued by Eric McGuire, an FBI agent, and released by the Department of Justice, from 2012 to 2014 Coronel passed messages from Guzmán to other members of the cartel to continue drug trafficking activities while he evaded authorities. Mexican.

Following the arrest of “El Chapo” in February 2014, Coronel continued to pass on the messages her husband gave her when she visited him in prison, McGuire wrote. Mexican authorities did not monitor visits, the agent said.

“I believe Coronel acted as a messenger between Guzmán and his soldiers, associates and children,” McGuire wrote. “I also understand that Guzmán continued to direct the drug trafficking activities of the Sinaloa Cartel from the Altiplano prison through various individuals, including Coronel.”

The FBI agent based his accusations in part on the statements of a witness whom he calls “Collaborating Witness 1”. McGuire said that after the arrest of “El Chapo” in January 2016, Coronel gave the witness $ 100,000 and told him to buy property near the Altiplano prison. The witness would end up receiving a million dollars to carry out the escape plan, McGuire said.

Guzmán, however, was transferred to a prison in Ciudad Juárez. Coronel told the witness that she and others were trying to transfer “El Chapo” back to the Altiplano prison, where escape “would be possible.”

Coronel allegedly told the witness that approximately $ 2 million had been paid to the official who ran Mexico’s prisons to carry out the transfer to the Altiplano.

Guzmán never returned to said jail.

According to McGuire, Coronel – who married Guzmán in 2007 when she was a teenager – was familiar with the world of drug trafficking because her father, Inés Coronel Barreras, was arrested in 2013 along with one of his sons and others in Arizona in a warehouse. full of marijuana.

Guzmán, one of the best-known drug traffickers in the world, and Coronel are the parents of twins born in 2011 and whom their mother took to the Brooklyn court a couple of times for their father to see.

Coronel was mentioned several times during her husband’s trial, in which a witness testified that she played a key role in Guzmán’s escape in 2015 in which his partners built a tunnel that led to the shower in “El Chapo’s cell. ”.

Dámaso López Nuñez, who worked for Guzmán, testified in the Brooklyn trial that Coronel helped Guzmán communicate with his children and others who coordinated the escape from the Altiplano jail.

Following the sentencing of her husband in 2019, Coronel launched a clothing brand named after her.