The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán was sentenced to three years in prison after she pleaded guilty to helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar trafficking operation, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 32, appeared in federal court Tuesday and told the judge that she was deeply sorry and ashamed, reported Telemundo, NBC’s Spanish-language network.
Coronel Aispuro pleaded guilty in June to three federal offenses as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors including knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine for several years. She also pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy charge and to engaging in transactions with a foreign narcotics trafficker.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras also entered a forfeiture money judgment Tuesday of nearly $1.5 million, representing proceeds of property Coronel Aispuro obtained as a result of her drug-trafficking activities, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Coronel Aispuro's attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
From about 2011 to at least Jan. 19, 2017, Coronel Aispuro "was a co-conspirator in the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel," which was led by her husband, officials said.
She was taken into custody in February at Dulles International Airport near Washington.
Coronel Aispuro told Contreras in Spanish on Tuesday that she was remorseful. "I am here before you, asking you for forgiveness," she said through a court interpreter.
Federal prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said: "While the overall effect of the defendant's conduct was significant, the defendant's actual role was a minimal one. The defendant acted primarily in support of her husband."
He added that after she was arrested, she "quickly accepted responsibility for her criminal conduct."
Coronel Aispuro, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, helped Guzmán escape from a maximum-security prison in Mexico in 2015 by conducting "planning meetings with other co-conspirators and by coordinating the movement of drug proceeds to finance the escape," the Justice Department statement said.
After her husband was caught, she was alleged to have plotted another escape from the same facility two years later, authorities said.
Guzmán was convicted in 2019 of 10 charges of engaging in a continual criminal enterprise and multiple counts of distributing tons of cocaine in the U.S. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.