The wife of the convicted drug trafficker and former Sinaloa Cartel chief Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was handed a three-year jail sentence in a United States court on Tuesday after she requested leniency from the judge.
California-born dual citizen Emma Coronel Aispuro, 32, was on trial on charges of drug trafficking and financial crimes, and faced the possibility of life imprisonment.
She pleaded guilty in June to three counts of conspiring to distribute illegal drugs, conspiring to launder money and of engaging in financial dealings with the Sinaloa Cartel. She also admitted to aiding her husband’s audacious escape from a maximum security prison in México state in 2015.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a lenient four-year prison term, considering that she would also be forfeiting US $1.5 million as part of her sentence.
The former beauty queen has nine-year-old twin daughters with Guzmán, who was sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. in July 2019 on charges of drug trafficking, conspiracy, kidnapping and murder.
Coronel pleaded for mercy from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras at the hearing on Tuesday.
“With all due respect, I address you today to express my true regret for any and all harm that I may have done, and I ask that you and all the citizens of this country forgive me,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter.
She added she feared a harsh sentence due to her husband’s infamy.
“Perhaps for this reason you feel there is a need for you to be harder on me, but I pray that you do not do that,” she said.
Federal prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi said Coronel’s involvement in the organization was minor. “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 said.
Nardozzi added that after her arrest she “quickly accepted responsibility for her criminal conduct.”
Coronel’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, who also represented Guzmán in 2019, said she deserved leniency. “She met Joaquin Guzmán when she was a minor. She was 17 years old, and she married him on her 18th birthday … I’m not sure that she could ever go back home,” he said.
Judge Contreras said he took Coronel’s background into consideration, and weighed up the well-being of her daughters in the sentence, given their father’s imprisonment.
“Good luck to you,” Contreras told her as the hearing concluded. “I hope that you raise your twins in a different environment than you’ve experienced today.”
With reports from Reuters