Emma Coronel Aispuro had a glamorous life in New York, where he enjoyed the benefits of his marriage with the drug trafficker Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as El Chapo. She was later arrested and imprisoned in Virginia.
What happened to the queen of the drug cartel world?
The Windows from the William Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria they are rectangular slats inserted lengthwise into a red brick.
That is where Emma Coronel Aispuro was held in solitary confinement, in a tiny cell.
Inside that jail, says his lawyer Mariel Colón Miro, he reads “romantic” novels to pass the time.
The conditions are a stark contrast to the life you once had.
A few months ago, he had plans to launch a clothing line, “El Chapo Guzmán”. The couple has iconic status in Mexico and the drug lord’s daughter has also made a foray into fashion using his name.
When I spoke to her in New York during her husband’s 2019 trial, she was wearing jewelry and an expensive watch.
Then earlier this year, Coronel, 31, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and charged with helping her drug lord husband run the notorious Sinaloa cartel.
Guzmán, 64, was sentenced to life in prison and held in a maximum security prison in Colorado.
FBI officials said Coronel conspired to distribute cocaine and helped plan her husband’s escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.
No date has been set for the trial. If she is found guilty, she could be sent to prison for life.
Her story is individual, with an unfaithful husband, a lover, and a criminal enterprise.
But it sheds light on the secret world of drug cartels and the women who inhabit it.
Leaving aside the question of guilt or innocence, analysts studying the world of drug trafficking say that Colonel forged an unusual role.
She was a public figure, businesswoman and supervisor, helping to control who had access to her husband while he ran the cartel.
Traditionally, drug traffickers’ wives are seen as “very sexual” and “non-intervening,” says Cecilia Farfán-Méndez, an academic at the University of California, San Diego.
Colonel was different, he says. “It showed that women can occupy positions of power ”.
And exercising power in a drug cartel is a risky undertaking.
Derek Maltz, the former special agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, notes that “when you are in this business, either you will be caught or you will be killed.”
Emma Coronel leaves Brooklyn Federal Court after her husband’s 2019 sentencing (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
Coronel showed her “good face” with her plans for a fashion company, but federal investigators were behind her.
“The world was collapsing around him, the walls were collapsing,” says Maltz.
Kidnappings and murders
Colonel used to dine on chopped iceberg lettuce in Federal District Court in Brooklyn during her husband’s trial.
He would sit with friends in the cafeteria, joking about mothers and how to deal with them.
“He has a great personality,” says Miro, his attorney. “The Emma I know is full of energy, always smiling.”
Coronel, a citizen of Mexico and the United States, met Guzmán when she was 17 years old. They were married shortly after.
They have two children, Maria Joaquina and Emali. During her husband’s trial, Coronel sat in the courtroom almost every day.
During breaks, she rattled in stilettos along the marble hallways.
“A diva from Sinaloa”, says Romain Le Cour Grandmaison, a Paris-based security analyst who has spent time in Mexico studying the cartels.
Wearing red lipstick, diamonds, and skinny jeans, she embodied the popular image of a “buchona,” the amorous partners of a narco.
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera of George Mason University has conducted research in Sinaloa, Mexico, where the Chapo cartel operates.
She defines the term buchona like this: “They wear very expensive clothes, Louis Vuitton handbags. Everything is an exaggeration, and she is a perfect representation of that image. It’s about the appearance, the plastic surgery. “
One of his most striking features, Correa-Cabrera noted, is his “butt,” which he describes as “extremely curvy.”
His glamorous image contrasted with the harsh reality of the operations of the Chapo cartel.
The mugshot of Emma Coronel Aispuro. (Photo: Alexandria Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)
Guzmán used violence to maintain control over the illegal drug market and reaped its rewards, bestowing wealth on his wife and family.
More than 300,000 people have died in Mexico since 2006, the year the government launched its war against the cartels.
The victims included Guzmán’s enemies, as well as people close to him.
The body of one of his lovers was found in the trunk of a car, a murder reported as perpetrated by a rival gang.
The price of loyalty
Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López, Guzmán’s longtime lover, testified against him during the trial.
She was arrested in June 2017 on drug charges near the US-Mexico border.
He pleaded guilty and was told he faced a decade in prison. Sánchez, a mother of two, cooperated with prosecutors as part of a sentence reduction agreement.
In court, dressed in a blue prison jumpsuit, she described her relationship with El Chapo and her work as the cartel leader.
He had a nervous tic and blinked often. Guzmán, sitting not far away, seemed impatient and was looking at a clock on the wall.
During the trial the media often crowded around Emma Coronel. (Photo: AFP via Getty Image)
Colonel was sitting in the second row. She combed her long hair with her fingers and that day she wore a velvet tuxedo jacket, the same type that her husband wore.
The matching jackets they showed the strength of their marriage, says William Purpura, who served as Guzmán’s attorney.
Coronel wanted to send a message to Sánchez wearing matching husband and wife suits the day the ex-lover testified.
“It was a ‘go to hell’ for the lover,” explains Purpura. “She was saying, ‘He’s mine.’
After testifying in court, Sánchez returned to his cell. Colonel went to dinner in New York City.
A short time later, the roles had been changed. Sánchez was released from prison and was released. Colonel was put behind bars and without bail.
Many were dismayed by the way Coronel flaunted her lifestyle during the trial and disappointed by the way she remained loyal to her husband.
“She’s seen as a fool,” explains security analyst Grandmaison.
However, Sánchez does not see it that way.
When his attorney, Heather Shaner, told him that Coronel was in jail, Sánchez showed no signs of joy.
Instead, her lawyer recalls: “She felt sad and said, ‘It’s just another mother who will be away from her children.’
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