The wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Emma Coronel Aispuro, on Thursday pleaded guilty in federal court for her role in helping her husband run the Sinaloa cartel of smugglers.
Clad in a green jumpsuit and wearing a white face mask, Coronel appeared for a court hearing before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington, D.C., where she pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiring to distribute illegal drugs, conspiring to launder money and engaging in financial dealings with the Sinaloa drug cartel.
As part of her plea agreement, she also admitted to conspiring to helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.
Coronel could face up to life in prison for the drug distribution charge alone. The other two counts against her carry maximum prison terms of 20 years and 10 years, respectively.
Without showing any obvious emotion and her face covered by a mask, Coronel said she understood the charges and the repercussions of her guilty plea.
“Everything is clear,” she told the judge.
The judge set a tentative sentencing date of September 15.
The 31-year-old former beauty queen was arrested in February on allegations that she relayed messages to help Guzman traffic drugs from 2012 to early 2014, and continued delivering messages while visiting him in a Mexican prison following his February 2014 arrest.
Coronel was born in California and holds both U.S. and Mexican citizenship.
Guzman, 64, was convicted in February 2019 in a high-profile Brooklyn trial of masterminding a multibillion-dollar drug enterprise for the Sinaloa cartel.
He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years, and locked up in the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.