Emma Coronel Aispuro is a former Sinaloa Cartel operative who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering in the United States. She is the third wife of Joaquín Guzmán, alias “El Chapo,” who, prior to his arrest and extradition to the United States, was one of the top leaders of the criminal organization.

Coronel is also known for openly participating in television shows and promoting fashion and beauty products through her social media accounts.

She is currently living in the United States on parole.

History

Emma Coronel was born in Santa Clara, California, on July 2, 1989, and is a Mexican-American citizen. She grew up on La Angostura ranch in Canelas, in the Mexican state of Durango, which is located in the region known as the Golden Triangle. This mountainous area, where the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua converge, has historically been the epicenter of illicit crop production and the birthplace of several drug trafficking networks.

Emma’s father, Inés Coronel Barreras, and two of her brothers, Inés Omar and Edgar, allegedly participated in the Sinaloa Cartel’s drug trafficking operations and were arrested between 2013 and 2015. Emma is also the niece of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a pioneer in methamphetamine trafficking for the Sinaloa Cartel who was killed by the armed forces in Jalisco in 2010.

During her adolescence, Emma often participated in beauty pageants at her town’s fairs. According to several reports, this is how she met Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” whom she married in 2007 at the age of 18.

At the age of 21, Emma had twin daughters, Emali Guadalupe and María Joaquina with El Chapo. She raised her daughters for several years in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, where she had moved with El Chapo shortly after their marriage. In Culiacán, Emma allegedly spent most of her time alone while her husband ran the Sinaloa Cartel. Evidence presented during her criminal trial in the United States, as well as newspaper reports, claimed that she was always one step removed from the illicit business.

However, US prosecutors argued that she was aware of the business and that she participated, at least indirectly, in some transactions related to drug trafficking and money laundering. For example, they claimed that Emma managed part of El Chapo’s finances, which were the proceeds from drug shipments.

Emma was present during El Chapo’s arrest in the coastal city of Mazatlán in 2014. After that, she allegedly took advantage of conjugal visits to the maximum-security Altiplano prison to pass messages between him, his children, and other Sinaloa Cartel operatives to orchestrate his infamous escape through a tunnel in 2015. The land where the tunnel exit was located was reportedly purchased by Emma.

After her husband’s second arrest in 2016 and his subsequent extradition and life sentence in the United States, Emma began to lead a more public life. In 2019, she launched a clothing brand called El Chapo Guzmán JGL, LLC with Alejandrina Guzmán, the daughter from another of El Chapo’s marriages. That same year, she appeared on the VH1 reality show called Cartel Crew, where she talked about her life and business. Around that time, she also created an Instagram account where she posted photos of modeling, social events, and travel.

However, this lifestyle was short-lived for her. On February 22, 2021, she traveled to the United States and was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Prosecutors in the US District Court for the District of Columbia charged her with participating in a conspiracy to import cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana into the United States.

During her hearing in June of that year, she pleaded guilty to all charges and, in November, a judge sentenced her to three years in prison and a fine of nearly $1.5 million.

Emma was held in a federal prison in Virginia and a minimum security prison in Texas for a total of two and a half years. In September 2023, she was released on parole after a brief stint in a Los Angeles detention center.

Criminal Activity

In general, Emma had little to do with the criminal activities of El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel. However, she admitted that she did know about them and pleaded guilty in the United States to conspiring to traffic cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine; conspiring to launder drug money; and participating in transactions involving her husband.

In addition, she allegedly acted as an intermediary carrying messages between El Chapo, his sons, and other Sinaloa Cartel collaborators to organize the drug lord’s escape from the Altiplano prison in 2015.

Geography

Emma spent most of her life between the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, and a few Golden Triangle towns in Durango, such as Canelas and La Angostura. She also spent some time in the United States, where she is a citizen and currently resides.

Allies and Enemies

There is no evidence that Emma Coronel was involved in the rivalries and disputes between her husband and other Sinaloa Cartel operators.

But while El Chapo was in prison, she allegedly worked closely with several of the organization’s leaders, including Dámaso López Núñez and El Chapo’s sons, to orchestrate his escape plans.

Prospects

After serving her sentence in the United States, Emma has emphasized that she has left the world of drug trafficking and wants to rebuild her life in the United States. In several statements to the media, she has said that she wants to improve her daughters’ quality of life.

She currently defines herself as a model and businesswoman, according to press reports, and attends various social events. It is unclear how close she has remained with the Sinaloa Cartel networks.

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