When Emma Coronel Aispuro was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday, El Chapo’s wife begged a federal court judge to consider her 10-year-old twin daughters with the imprisoned drug-cartel leader.
“They are already growing up without the presence of one of their parents,” the 32-year-old brunette told Rudoph Contreras, the District Court Judge in Washington, DC, who handed down her sentence. “I beg you to please not allow them to grow up without the presence of their mother.”
In pronouncing her sentence, Judge Contreras told Coronel Aispuro: “I hope you raise your twins in a different environment than you’ve experienced to date.”
Coronel Aispuro, 32, is hoping to serve the rest of her time in prison at a federal facility in California so that she can be close to her children, according to reports. Like their beauty-queen mother, Maria Joaquina and Emaly Guadalupe were born in that state and have US citizenship. It’s not clear who is taking care of the girls while both parents serve out their prison terms. Calls to Coronel Aispuro’s lawyers were not returned this week.
On Tuesday, Coronel Aispuro was sentenced to 36 months in jail for her role as a “co-conspirator” in the Sinaloa Cartel. Her husband, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who headed up the cartel before his extradition to the US in 2017, is currently serving a life sentence at a maximum security facility in Colorado.
Jeffrey Lichtman, the Manhattan criminal defense attorney who represented both Coronel Aispuro and El Chapo, told reporters outside the DC courthouse Tuesday that she would likely be out of prison in 18 months. The sentence was relatively light because Coronel Aispuro had no previous criminal record and readily admitted guilt, Lichtman said.
But an expert on Mexican cartels said Coronel Aispuro will likely have to do the full 36 months in federal prison. “There’s no such thing as early release from federal prison,” said Robert Almonte, a security consultant based in Texas. “She’s not going to be used to doing federal time in the US. It won’t be like in Mexico where prisoners can pay for luxurious cells and take out food. She is going to get a reality check.”
Time behind bars will also put a halt on her fashion dreams. Before her arrest, Coronel Aispuro was searching for designers in Mexico to help create a line of cell phone cases, hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts under the “El Chapo Guzman” name.
Coronel Aispuro registered a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2019 for the brand name and a circular logo featuring a lion’s head, according to the federal registration. No items were yet produced under the label.
She also appeared on a yacht in an episode of VH1’s “Cartel Crew” in November 2019, seeking advice from the son of drug trafficker Griselda Blanco on launching the clothing line.
“I try not to regret what’s in the past,” she said, clad in tight jeans and a white bustier and mirrored aviator sunglasses. “They judge us without knowing us. It’s hard because sometimes you just want to do what you see everyone around you doing.”
The cartel-inspired clothing line put Coronel Aispuro in direct competition with stepdaughter Alejandrina Guzman Salazar, one of El Chapo’s 10 children. Guzman Salazar’s El Chapo 701 label markets leather goods, jeans, cigars and liquor, according to its website.
Sources say Coronel Aispuro wanted to start the line in an effort to end her reliance on profits from drug dealing, although she herself has denied ever using drug money to fund her lifestyle.
That lavish life included luxury trips to Europe and a Barbie-themed party for her daughters’ seventh birthday in 2018 — complete with a giant pink Dreamhouse, carnival rides and a startling array of cakes and candies.
At the time, she said that she relied on cash from the rental of properties that her father, a convicted drug trafficker, owned.
Before her arrest, she had also become an Instagram influencer — with more than 686,000 followers — modeling clothes for various Mexican companies in Sinaloa. Her last Instagram post, from two months before she turned herself in, shows Coronel Aispuro in a lacy wedding dress, her dark hair dyed blonde in a campaign for Lumaran Salon in Culiacan, the largest city in Sinaloa, where she lived with her daughters.
“In the past, she was able to rub elbows with some pretty fancy people,” Almonte told The Post. “Now she will be treated just like any other female inmate in the federal prison system.”
Coronel Aispuro gave herself up to authorities at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC, where she was arrested on international drug trafficking charges in February, and has already served 10 months at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The facility, which holds about 400 inmates, has also been home to former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort; US Army soldier and whistleblower Chelsea Manning; and Zacarias Moussaoui, the French al-Qaeda member who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill US citizens during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At the detention facility, Coronel Aispuro was reportedly alone, in her cell, 22 hours a day — a far cry from her formerly glamorous and busy life.
“She only spends a couple of hours in a small communal room,” her attorney Mariel Colon told Spain’s “El Pais” earlier this year. Coronel Aispuro read much of the time, as “they don’t offer her anything else to do to distract herself,” said Colon.
It was not clear whether she had been able to see her twins during her incarceration.
Her involvement in the cartel run by her husband, 64, first came to light at his trial in a Brooklyn federal courtroom where Coronel Aispuro was a daily fixture — smiling and blowing kisses at her husband, while wearing chic designer outfits.
Coronel Aispuro, who married El Chapo on her 18th birthday in 2007, was instrumental to her husband’s daring escape — through a mile-long tunnel — from a high-security prison in Mexico in 2015, according to court documents.
In addition to delivering $1 million in cash to prison officials to arrange for favorable prison conditions for Guzman, Coronel Aispuro “arranged for a GPS watch disguised as a food item to be delivered to Guzman by a prison guard,” court papers say. The watch allowed Guzman to mark the location of his cell to give tunnel engineers “specific geographic coordinates to construct the underground tunnel,” court papers say.
She also helped purchase property close to the prison so that the tunnel could be constructed. In her visits to her husband in prison she kept him “apprised of the progress of construction” of the tunnel, which had an opening under the shower in El Chapo’s cell, according to court papers.
She relayed messages to other members of the Sinaloa cartel regarding the drug trade, which continued to be run by El Chapo while he was incarcerated, according to court filings.
Following his escape from the high-security Mexican prison in 2015, El Chapo was on the run living in a series of safe houses until he was captured by Mexican marines in the coastal city of Los Mochis in Sinaloa in January 2017. Days later, he was extradited to the US to face trial on several counts of drug trafficking, money-laundering and murder.
Along with her prison sentence, Coronel Aispuro was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 million to the US government, an amount that was later reduced to $511,734, according to court records.
Dressed in a white turtleneck and dark suit, Coronel Aispuro apologized to the court.
“I express my true regrets for any and all harm that I may have done,” Coronel Aispuro said in Spanish before the sentence was announced. “I am suffering as a result of the pain that I caused my family.”
In addition to her husband, Coronel Aispuro’s father Ines Coronel Barreras is a convicted drug trafficker and former Sinaloa Cartel member, currently serving a 10-year sentence in Mexico.