El Chapo’s wife held without bail after arrest on US drug charges

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The former wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo Guzman will remain in a US jail to face charges of helping her husband operate his multibillion dollar cartel and with aiding in his daring 2015 escape from a Mexican prison through an underground tunnel.

US Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather at a hearing in Washington Tuesday ordered Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, to be held without bail.Coronel, a former beauty queen and the mother of the couple’s twin daughters, was arrested Monday at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and is accused of participating in a conspiracy to distribute multiton shipments of cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin and marijuana into the US, according to a federal complaint.

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“The defendant has associates who are members of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the financial means to generate a serious risk of flight, assistant US Attorney Anthony Nardozzi told the court. He also said Coronel has no significant ties to the Washington area where she will face trial.

Her lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, the New York attorney who defended Guzman at his US trial, told Meriweather he would agree to her detention pending a hearing later. He didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment about the case.

Coronel, who married Guzman when she was 17 in 2007, is accused with helping arrange Guzman’s escape from the maximum-security Altiplano prison in the State of Mexico. The tunnel was a mile (1.6 kilometers) long and equipped with lighting, ventilation and a motorcycle on rails.

Guzman relayed messages through Coronel to his sons, directing them to buy land near Altiplano and a nearby warehouse to stockpile firearms and an armored truck, prosecutors said. She also met repeatedly with those who helped Guzman escape and discussed providing him with a GPS-enabled watch to help locate his exact whereabouts as they constructed the tunnel, according to the criminal complaint.

Prosecutors also charged Coronel with trying to help Guzman escape from another Mexican prison before his January 2017 extradition to the US He was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, in 2019 and is serving life in prison.

During her husband’s trial, Coronel attended court daily, and trial testimony showed she relayed messages for Guzman.

Coronel grew up with knowledge of the narcotics-trafficking industry as her father, Ines Coronel, served as member of the Sinaloa cartel, the most prolific in Mexico, according to the US A Mexican court sentenced Ines Coronel to more than 10 years in prison for marijuana trafficking.

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