The lawyer for El Chapo‘s beauty queen wife says the US government is trying to get her family murdered by leaking rumors that she is preparing to cooperate with prosecutors following her arrest.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual US-Mexican citizen, is being held in a Washington, D.C. prison after she was charged last week with helping her drug kingpin husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire.
Her lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman, who also represented her husband Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, has accused federal agents of planting rumors that Coronel Aispuro is planning to cooperate with the US government to help take down the Sinaloa cartel.
Lichtman told WABC‘s The Other Side of Midnight program that the rumor ‘was designed to kill her family’.
‘I’m not going to comment on what she is or what she isn’t going to do,’ Lichtman said.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, is being held in a Washington, D.C. prison after she was charged last week with helping her drug kingpin husband, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire
He described the alleged planting of the story as the ‘most despicable thing’ and the ‘worst prosecutorial governmental misconduct’ he has experienced in 30 years.
‘I’ve been involved with fabrication of evidence, destroying evidence, lying to judges, lying to juries by the feds but to actually put this out there is an attempt to murder her and her family,’ he said.
Her lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman, who also represented her husband Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, has accused federal agents of planting rumors that Coronel is planning to cooperate with the US government to help take down the Sinaloa cartel
‘Let’s be clear about this. She’s got two 9-year-old girls that are exposed, obviously, and to put this out there so flippantly is designed to kill them.’
Coronel and El Chapo have twin daughters, Emali Guadalupe and Maria Joaquina, together.
Multiple law enforcement sources have said Coronel turned herself into authorities last week in a sign of a cooperation agreement, which would require information or testimony in exchange for leniency in her case.
Coronel refused to cooperate with investigators when her husband stood trial in the US in 2019. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
The two, separated in age by more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007.
She was arrested a week ago at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
Her arrest was a surprise, in part, because authorities had made no move to arrest her over the past two years, even after she was implicated in her husband’s crimes.
She was charged in a single-count criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the US.
She was arrested a week ago at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. It was a surprise, in part, because authorities had made no move to arrest her over the past two years, even after she was implicated in her husband’s crimes. She is pictured above during a February 23 court appearance
Coronel refused to cooperate with investigators when her husband stood trial in the US in 2019. She is pictured outside the Brooklyn Federal Court during his 2019 trial
She is also accused of helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and participating in the planning of a second prison escape before Guzman was extradited to the US.
Coronel worked with Guzman’s sons and a witness, who is now cooperating with the US government, to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzman used to escape from the Altiplano prison to prevent his extradition to the US, according to court documents.
The plot also included purchasing a piece of land near the prison, firearms and an armored truck and smuggling him a GPS watch so they could ‘pinpoint his exact whereabouts so as to construct the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him,’ the court papers say.
‘Narco-soap opera’ life of El Chapo’s wife Emma Coronel Aispuro and how her arrest could spell the end for the Sinaloa drug cartel – if she turns on her husband’s associates
The life of Emma Coronel Aispuro reads like a soap opera script: teenage beauty queen marries drug kingpin, helps him escape from prison, becomes famous as she stands by his side when he’s tried and convicted, and then gets arrested herself.
Now the 31-year-old’s story could be reaching it’s climax, as US officials look to her to help take down the Sinaloa cartel.
Coronel and Guzman, who is more than three decades her senior, tied the knot when she was 18 in 2007 and went on to spend the majority of their married life with Guzman either in jail or on the run as one of the world’s top drug lords.
When Guzman finally went on trial in 2019, Coronel stepped into the spotlight, attending court in designer outfits with their two twin daughters in a show of loyalty.
Coronel had refused to cooperate with investigators and turn on her husband – who was easily convicted anyway and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
After Guzman was put away, Coronel leaned even further into her newfound fame, garnering a 579,000-strong following on social media, launching a clothing brand in the US and appearing on a reality show about mafia families.
Everything came crashing down after Coronel’s arrest.
US investigators are said to be confident that putting pressure on Coronel will finally make her crack and cooperate – potentially providing information that could bring the Sinaloa cartel down altogether.
The life of Emma Coronel Aispuro (pictured) reads like a soap opera script: teenage beauty queen marries drug kingpin, helps him escape from prison, becomes famous as she stands by his side when he’s tried and convicted, and then gets arrested herself
Coronel is pictured above in photos from her beauty queen days – before she met Guzman and married him in 2007 when she was 18
Coronel has been enmeshed in the cartel world all her life, having grown up with a father and brother who were both drug traffickers.
When she married Guzman, then 50, the families ‘merged’ and he brought her brother and father in to be his ‘top lieutenants’, according to former DEA Chief Mike Vigil .
‘Emma Coronel has always been a narco princess,’ Vigil told the Sun this week. ‘The cartels trust their family members more than anybody else.
‘She can provide a lot of information that can lead to US-based indictments against Sinaloa cartel members.’
It remains unclear whether Coronel intends to cooperate, or if she plans to continue standing by her husband’s side. Vigil said he thinks it could go either way.
‘Her life is in danger if she cooperates,’ he said. ‘Her motivation for co-operating would be her young twin daughters. She goes to jail, she has a life without them.’
The Sinaloa cartel, which was established in Culiacan in the 1980s, has only increased its power in the wake of Guzman’s arrest, authorities say.
It continues to send millions of dollars of drugs into the US each month under the presumed leadership of Guzman’s longtime partner, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada.
Zambada is believed to be sharing that role with Guzman’s sons – Jesús Alfredo Guzmán, Iván Guzmán and Ovidio Guzmán, who go by the moniker ‘Los Chapitos’.
The cartel’s leadership structure has long been elusive, but cooperation from someone as high up as Coronel could change that.
The Sinaloa cartel has held its power even after Guzman’s arrest and continues to send millions of dollars of drugs into the US each month under the presumed leadership of Guzman’s longtime partner, Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada (pictured)
Guzman’s sons – Jesús Alfredo Guzmán, Iván Guzmán (left) and Ovidio Guzmán (right), who go by the moniker ‘Los Chapitos’ – have also taken a more active role in the cartel since his arrest
In the wake of her arrest, speculation arose that Coronel, who lived in relative obscurity before Guzman’s trial, may have put a target on her own back when she embraced the limelight.
Her actions violated unwritten rules about family members, especially wives, keeping a low profile.
Until the trial, ‘Emma had remained anonymous like practically all of partners of Sinaloa cartel capos,’ Adrián López, executive editor of Sinaloa’s Noroeste newspaper, told the Associated Press.
Then, ‘she begins to take on more of a celebrity attitude. … This breaks a tradition of secrecy and a style specifically within the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel.’
Late last year, the Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernández – who has written extensively about the Sinaloa cartel, including a 2019 book about the diary of cartel leader Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada’s son – said a source told her that Coronel’s mother, Blanca Aispuro, was worried about the turn her daughter’s life was taking.
Concern was also building among Guzmán’s sons and Sinaloa cartel leader Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada, said Hernández, who was the first journalist to ever interview Emma Coronel.
‘Her mother was also worried that an enemy cartel could harm Emma because she was unleashed, was out in the street a lot, the clubs, excessive in her social life,’ Hernández said the source told her.
‘Her mother worried something like that could happen or she could become a target of the government.’