WASHINGTON (AP) – The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán pleaded guilty in the US on Thursday to charges and admitted that she helped her husband run his billion-dollar criminal empire.
Emma Coronel Espuro, wearing a green prison uniform, appeared in federal court in Washington and pleaded guilty to three federal crimes as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
The charges include intentionally and knowingly conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine over several years. He also pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and of being involved in a transaction with a foreign drug trafficker.
The 31-year-old was arrested at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport in February and has been in jail since.
“He’s very happy to have it behind him,” said Jeffrey Lichtman, attorney for Coronel Aspuro, outside the courthouse. “She didn’t expect to be arrested after her husband found life in prison. So, it’s definitely a disturbing time. But we’re going to get through it.”
Prosecutors have alleged that Coronel Espuro “worked closely with the command-and-control structure” of the Sinaloa cartel and conspired to distribute large quantities of drugs, knowing they would be smuggled into the US.
Prosecutors say that as Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Guzmán ran a cartel responsible for smuggling cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign. He also said that under his “Army of Sicario,” or “Hit Men,” he was ordered to abduct, torture, and murder anyone who came his way.
The prosecutor, Anthony Nardozzi, said his wife had “aided and encouraged” the Sinaloa Cartel’s objectives to smuggle drugs into the US and import more than 450,000 kg of cocaine, 90,000 kg of heroin, 45,000 kg of methamphetamine and about 90,000 kg. has helped. Marijuana.
Lichtman insisted that Coronel Aspiro had “very few participants” in the drug empire. “She was a very small part of this much bigger thing,” he said.
Her arrest earlier this year was somewhat of a surprise as authorities had taken no steps to arrest her in the past two years, even though she was implicated in her husband’s crimes. During Guzmán’s trial in 2019, prosecutors said he helped Guzmán break into two prisons in Mexico.
Nardozzi said Coronel Espuro “acted in the middle” to deliver messages to cartel members after her husband’s arrest and conspired to “plan and coordinate” with Guzmán’s sons.
Coronel Espuro listened silently as prosecutors explained how they could prove her illegal activity if she wanted to go to trial.
“Yes,” she said through a translator, when the judge asked whether she had indeed committed the crimes described by the government.
Lichman said her client did not agree to cooperate with federal investigators, but expects to receive a minimum statutory sentence of 10 years when she is due back in court for sentencing in September.