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Wife of ‘El Chapo,’ imprisoned for helping run husband’s drug empire, transferred from federal prison to halfway house

Emma Coronel Aispuro

The wife of “El Chapo”, Emma Coronel Aispuro, exits the US Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn after a hearing in the case of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman on February 3, 2017 in New York. (Photo credit: DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)

The wife of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been transferred from a federal prison to a halfway house, after serving much of her sentence for helping run her husband’s narcotic’s empire.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 33, pleaded guilty some two years ago to all three counts of a criminal information charging her with international drug trafficking, money laundering, and a criminal violation of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, known for short as the Kingpin Act. She received a three-year sentence in November 2021.

With her Sept. 13, 2023 release date looming, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has transferred her from lockup in Texas to Residential Reentry Management (RRM) in Long Beach, California, federal records show.

Better known as halfway houses, RRMs help incarcerated people prepare for life outside of prison.

Coronel is believed to have helped spring Guzman’s out of a Mexican prison in 2015, a feat she helped execute “by conducting planning meetings with other co-conspirators and by coordinating the movement of drug proceeds to finance the escape,” the Department of Justice said.

“To facilitate the escape, Coronel Aispuro assisted in the purchase of a property near the prison and provided Guzman Loera with a watch that contained a GPS tracking device, allowing co-conspirators to dig a tunnel from that nearby property, under the prison, to Guzman Loera’s cell,” the Justice Department continued. “Coronel Aispuro even relayed messages from Guzman Loera to other members of the Sinaloa Cartel regarding the operation of their illicit activities while he was detained.”

That wasn’t her only role in Guzman’s operations.

In court papers from the time of her arrest, the FBI said that Coronel “understood the drug proceeds she controlled during her marriage to Guzman were derived from [drug] shipments.”

“Coronel grew up with knowledge of the narcotics trafficking industry, and married Guzman when she was a teenager,” FBI agent Eric McGuire noted in an affidavit this year on Feb. 17.

Prosecutors said that she knew and understood that the Sinaloa Cartel was the most prolific in Mexico.

“Coronel was aware of multi-ton cocaine shipments, multi-kilo heroin production, multi-ton marijuana shipments, and ton quantity methamphetamine shipments,” the affidavit stated.

On top of Coronel’s sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras imposed a forfeiture of $1,499,970 and four years of supervised release.

Her guilty plea came years after her husband’s conviction for drug trafficking in 2019. Prosecutors branded Guzman a “ruthless and bloodthirsty” drug lord who maintained power by ordering the “killing, kidnapping and torture of individuals whom he believed were cooperating with law enforcement against his personal interests and the interests of the Sinaloa Cartel.”

Guzman is currently serving a sentence of life in prison plus 30 years at a “Supermax” facility in Colorado. He lost his appeal in early 2022, as the Second Circuit rejected his claims of “breathtaking juror misconduct.”

Coronel’s attorney did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."