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El Chapo’s wife pleads guilty of federal charges for helping run a drug empire

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Emma Coronel, 31, the wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to launder money, and engaging in unlawful financial transactions involving a designated narcotics-trafficking organization, the Sinaloa cartel.

Coronel, wearing a green jail uniform, entered the plea in a federal court in Washington, six months after she was arrested at Dulles International Airport, upon arrival on a flight from Mexico; and nearly two years after Guzman was sentenced to life prison plus 30 years for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise as well as drug trafficking and firearms charges as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Court documents indicate that a plea deal has been in the works since March, when prosecutors secretly filed a criminal information, a document that indicates a plea agreement has been reached. Those documents were unsealed this week in advance of Ms. Coronel’s plea, this Thursday, June 10th. 

One of the prosecutors, Anthony Nardozzi, said Coronel “aided and abetted” the Sinaloa cartel’s aims to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Also, Nardozzi said, she helped import more than 450,000 kilograms of cocaine, 90,000 kilograms of heroin, 45,000 kilograms of methamphetamine and about 90,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Nardozzi continued on accusing El Chapo’s wife of serving “as a bo-between” to deliver information to the cartel after his husband was arrested and of conspiring with Guzman’s sons to coordinate his prison escapes. 

Coronel listened to the accusations of prosecutors in court and said “Yes” using a translator when asked by the judge three times if she had actually committed the crimes the government described.

It is still unknown if Coronel is cooperating with federal authorities to provide information on her husband’s criminal organization. Given the knowledge and expertise she earned during the years she helped run her husband’s drug empire, she would be a great source to authorities working to dismantle the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel. 

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