Despite her position as the wife of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most notorious drug boss, Emma Coronel Aispro lived almost anonymously until her husband was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Suddenly, she made a presence on social media. There was talk of launching a fashion line. Even appearing on a reality show dedicated to the family of drug traffickers.
Coronel’s actions were not overlooked. And there were people who wondered after she was arrested on Monday for plotting to distribute drugs: Coronel put a target on her back in the limelight. Is it?
Her actions were noteworthy because she lived a relatively protected life until she participated in a tough trial that attracted international attention. However, her actions violated the unwritten law of her family, especially her wife, and remained unobtrusive.
Until the trial, “Emma remained anonymous like almost every partner in Sinaloa Cartel Capos,” said Adrian Lopez, editor-in-chief of the Sinaloa Cartel newspaper. Then, “She begins to take on a more celebrity attitude …. This breaks the tradition of secrets and style, especially within the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
At the end of last year, Mexican research journalist Anabel Hernandez wrote extensively about the Sinaloa Cartel, including a 2019 book on the diary of the son of cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. I was worried about the order in which her daughter’s life was taking.
Hernandez, the first journalist to interview Emma Coronel, said there was growing concern between Guzman’s sons and Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
“Her mother was also worried that the enemy cartel could harm Emma because she was unleashed. In her social life, the club was over-streetd.” Hernandez told her. “Her mother was worried that such a thing could happen or be a target of the government.”
Guzman has been married many times. He is far from faithful, as revealed in his trial in New York. Coronel, sitting in court, heard a woman testify about how she and Guzman escaped dramatically from a midnight raid in one of his hideouts by the Mexican Marines.
She jumped out of bed, found a secret hatch, passed through a drainage tunnel, and explained that a naked Guzman was on the road.
“Sometimes I loved him, sometimes I didn’t,” she said in tears.
Coronel was kissing Guzman with a smile every day. “But in reality, Emma was very, very angry and very hurt, they tell me,” Hernandez said. “So when the trial was over, she decided to take revenge, and the way to get revenge was to let her husband see what he had lost.”
Born in San Francisco, 31-year-old Coronel grew up in the mountains of Durango, adjacent to the state of Sinaloa in Guzman, a poor region known as the Golden Triangle.
She and Guzman married in 2007 at the age of 18. He was 50 years old and was one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world. “I don’t think she really had many options to say no. I won’t marry you,” Hernandez said.
For some time, Coronel’s father, Ines Coronel Valeras, was allegedly responsible for moving the Sinaloa Cartel marijuana across the border to Arizona. In 2013, he was arrested from Douglas, Arizona, along with his son and one of the other men, in a warehouse with a gun and hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border.
For years, Emma Coronel’s only public image was a 2007 photo of her being selected as the Queen of the Festival Beauty Contest in Canellas, the town where she grew up. She wore a huge crown and a closed-mouthed smile and looked directly at the camera.
After their wedding, she disappeared from public until it was reported in 2011 that she had given birth to twin daughters in Los Angeles County. On February 22, 2014, she was captured by the Mexican Marines in the Pacific resort town of Mazatlan with Guzman and her daughters.
Guzman was sent to the largest security Altiplano prison on the outskirts of Mexico City while his lawyer was fighting his surrender. On July 11, 2015, Guzman escaped through a one-mile tunnel dug in the shower in his cell.
In January 2016, Mexican Marines regained Guzman in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The following month, Coronel interviewed Hernandez for the first time and repeatedly complained about the situation in which Guzman was detained.
Coronel told Hernandez that he had learned from television that he had escaped from the Altiplano prison.
“If I knew something, I wouldn’t have been desperate to sleep or eat,” she said. “I had no idea.”
Guzman was handed over to the United States, but not before Coronel was involved in planning yet another escape attempt that never paid off, US prosecutors say.
Coronel and her designer wardrobe made a splash at the El Chapo trial. The photographers bent over each other to capture her arrival and departure.
At one point she wore a burgundy velvet blazer that matched what she had sent to Guzman to wear that day. She then asked a court artist to recreate the show of solidarity — a souvenir.
Coronel confidently roamed the courtroom. She played with her hair while waiting for the proceedings to begin and talked friendly with the reporter sitting behind her. She sometimes put crackers and cookies in her wallet and offered light meals to reporters.
Every morning, Guzman sought out her when she entered the courtroom. He smiled and waved.
One day she chatted and laughed in court with Mexican actor Alejandro Edda, who played Guzman in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. In the sixth week of the trial, she brought her seven-year-old twin daughters in jeans and a white jacket. Their father softly applauded them as if they were playing with them.
After Guzman was convicted — he will be sent for a lifetime plus 30 years — Coronel for taking care of the twins while Guzman’s lawyer and her mother and sister were attending the trial. I posted a thank-you statement.
She said the trial was difficult. Her name emerged in the testimony. Damasso Lopez, one of Guzman’s former lieutenants, testified that he had met several times with Coronel and Guzman’s sons to plan the escape of the drug boss from Altiplano Prison. And he said Coronel relayed a message from her husband.
Coronel did not repent. “The only thing I can say about it is that there is nothing embarrassing,” she writes. “I’m not perfect, but I think I’m a good person. I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone.”
Lopez, editor of Noroeste, and Ismael Boyorquez, editor of Riodose, a news agency known for investigating the underworld in Sinaloa, both expressed shock when Coronel traveled back and forth between the United States after the trial.
Hernandez suspects that US officials have noticed a change in Coronel’s lifestyle and have found an opportunity to put pressure on her at a moment when she may be more open to betraying her husband.
Coronel has posted only 5 photos on Instagram (@therealemmacoronel), but has more than 563,000 followers.
In the last photo posted in December, she posed in a white wedding dress that is part of the fashion collection. And in a photo posted on her July birthday, she was shining with red lipstick, a black leather jacket, and a long, black-haired crown. This is the sound of an old small town beauty contest.
“Happy birthday,” she wrote.
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