US detains wife of Mexican drug cartel chief El Chapo
23 Feb 2021

The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the imprisoned former leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, has been arrested over her alleged involvement in international drug trafficking, the US Department of Justice said.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, who regularly attended her husband’s trial two years ago, was arrested on Monday at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia and is expected to appear by video conference in a federal court in Washington on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Coronel could not immediately be identified. It was unclear why Coronel, a dual US-Mexico citizen, was in the Washington, DC area.

Coronel’s arrest came two years after a trial in Brooklyn where Guzman, now 63, was convicted of trafficking tonnes of drugs into the United States as Sinaloa’s leader. Prosecutors at the trial said Guzman amassed power through murders and wars with rival cartels.

He was sentenced in July 2019 to life in prison plus 30 years, which the sentencing judge said reflected Guzman’s “overwhelmingly evil” actions. Guzman was sent to ADX Florence in Colorado, the US’s most secure prison.

Coronel was charged on Monday with conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, cannabis and methamphetamines for unlawful importation into the US.

Prosecutors allege Coronel also conspired to aid her husband in his July 2015 escape from the Altiplano prison in Mexico, when he dug a mile-long tunnel from his cell, and began plotting a second escape following his capture by Mexican authorities in January 2016.

According to the complaint, as much as $2m was paid to an unnamed Mexican official, who oversaw the country’s prisons, to facilitate Guzman’s second attempt to escape.

Strained ties

US and Mexican efforts to fight drug trafficking became strained in October when the US Justice Department brought drug charges against former Mexican Defence Minister Salvador Cienfuegos.

The Justice Department unexpectedly dropped that case the following month and let Cienfuegos return to Mexico, a move Mexico said would help restore trust.

Cienfuegos was exonerated two months later when Mexico dropped its own case.

Read more at Al Jazeera

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