Emma Coronel, the wife of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the imprisoned Mexican drug lord, has been released from a US jail. She was sentenced to three years in prison in November 2021 for drug trafficking but was granted early release.
Her husband, El Chapo Guzmán, is currently serving a life sentence in a high-security prison in Oregon.
Last month, he penned a handwritten letter requesting permission for his wife and their two daughters to visit him in the maximum-security prison.
El Chapo Guzmán, 66, was convicted in 2019 of leading the Sinaloa cartel, a Mexico-based criminal organization. According to US law enforcement estimates, the cartel smuggled over 1,000 tons of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and heroin into the United States. The cartel was known for kidnapping, torturing, and killing members of rival gangs to expand its power. It also engaged in corrupt practices, bribing police officers and high-ranking politicians in Mexico and Central America to facilitate its drug operations.
Emma Coronel first met Guzmán when she was 17 years old during a local beauty pageant. Her father, Inés Coronel, was a senior member of the Sinaloa cartel and is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Mexico for drug smuggling.
Guzmán ran the cartel from various hideouts in northern Mexico after his dramatic escape from prison in a laundry cart in 2001. He and Coronel formalized their relationship when she was 18, although it’s unclear if their marriage was officially registered with Mexican authorities.
Coronel, who holds dual US-Mexican citizenship, traveled to California in 2011 to give birth to their twin daughters, granting them US citizenship.
In 2014, Guzmán was captured after a 13-year manhunt and incarcerated in the Altiplano maximum-security prison in Mexico. However, he escaped again, this time using a motorcycle on rails leading to a nearby warehouse.
During her trial, prosecutors claimed that Coronel had played a significant role in her husband’s escape and had acted as a messenger for him both while he was on the run and behind bars, conveying orders to his cartel associates and his sons from previous marriages, known as the Chapitos (Little Chapos).
Guzmán managed to elude capture for six months after his 2015 tunnel escape before Mexican special forces finally apprehended him outside Los Mochis, his hometown in Sinaloa. He was later extradited to the US and put on trial in New York, where Coronel made daily appearances in court, supporting her husband.
Despite the damning testimonies during the trial, Coronel described Guzmán as “an excellent father, friend, brother, son, partner” and remained free for nearly two more years until her arrest at Dulles Airport near Washington DC in February 2021. Prosecutors argued that she was well aware of her husband’s criminal activities and understood the extent of the Sinaloa cartel’s drug trafficking.
Coronel pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering during her sentencing and asked for leniency, citing her children’s need for a mother. Her three-year sentence was subsequently reduced, leading to her recent release.
While her future plans are uncertain, her husband’s plea for her to visit suggests that she may travel to Oregon to see him. In his letter, Guzmán mentioned that their 12-year-old daughters are studying in Mexico and can only visit him during holidays, at most two or three times a year.