Where is Emma Coronel? El Chapo's beauty queen wife could bring end to $11B Sinaloa drug empire
DEA boss Mike Vigil says 31-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro might provide investigators the 'blueprint' to bring an end to the $11 billion drug empire
Season 14 of CNBC's 'American Greed' delves into the elusive drug kingpin "El Chapo" Joaquín Guzmán. The story of the former Sinaloa cartel boss's daring escapes and arrests have slowly begun to work themselves into pop culture.
Both El Chapo and his beauty queen wife Emma Coronel are currently jailed in the United States over a range of offenses, and the latter could potentially bring about the collapse of the mighty Sinaloa cartel if she decides to cut a deal with the authorities. Earlier this month, celebrated DEA boss Mike Vigil told The Sun that 31-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro might provide investigators the "blueprint" to bring an end to the $11 billion drug empire.
According to Vigil, who served as the chief of international operations for the DEA and is hailed as one of the world’s leading experts on Mexican cartels, the "Narco Princess" doesn't have too many options. He told the newspaper that the prospect of a long jail sentence and not being able to raise her children will give Coronel the motivation she needs to "turn on the Sinaloa cartel" and put a “big dent” in their narcotics operation.
"She can draw a blueprint for US and Mexican law enforcement to dismantle the organization, little by little,” Vigil told The Sun on May 5.
Where is Emma Coronel?
Coronel is currently remanded in custody at the William G Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, after being accused of helping her husband to run his drug-trafficking empire. Furthermore, she is also accused of helping the 63-year-old crime syndicate boss escape from a maximum-security Mexican prison in 2015 and plotting another escape before he was extradited to the United States in 2017.
Once the world's most powerful drug trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 and is currently being held at the ADX Florence ‘supermax' prison in Colorado. El Chapo reportedly fell in love with his wife when he saw her at a beauty pageant in Mexico in 2007. They agreed to marry when she was just 18 and he was 47.
Prosecutors will now sit down with Coronel's legal team for a pre-trial discussion and offer her a chance to cut a deal, Vigil said.
“She’s got two very young daughters. Chapo Guzman is never going to see the light of day again so that has got to be stewing in her mind while she’s in jail," he told The Sun. “The daughters will provide great motivation for her to turn on the Sinaloa cartel and provide information. She has a great deal of historic information about how the cartel functions, she knows all of the leaders, she knows all of the drug routes, she knows all the officials the cartel pays. She can also provide information about how it launders money.”
Vigil said that Emma Coronel can provide valuable information considering her closeness to her husband. What's more? She herself descends from "narco royalty," per The Sun -- Her father and brother are reputed drug traffickers, while her uncle is the notorious slain kingpin Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel Villarreal. Considering this, she will be able to provide US authorities great insight into the shady underworld of the cartels.
"She grew up in the drug world and has always been a narco princess Emma Coronel was born into the narco world, unlike most people who go into it," Vigil explained. “When she married, she became Chapo Guzman’s confidant because the one thing about drug traffickers trust the most and the ones they know they can trust the most are family members."
“The government is going to be interested in information on the Sinaloa cartel, which still operates in 40 countries," he continued. “If she co-operates fully she is able to put a big dent into the cartel. There are individuals that have not yet been indicted in the United States, people that she knows. The government is definitely going to want to know about Chapo’s sons and the other big one is Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada.”
According to Vigil, Zambada has taken the reigns of the Sinaloa cartel since Chapo's incarceration. He is reportedly described as the “Carlo Gambino of cartels” referring to his ability to avoid jail.
Emma Coronel will never face the harsh conditions of imprisonment as her husband, but she will eventually realize that cooperation is her best option, per Vigil. “Most people when they get arrested say they’re not going to co-operate. You saw in the statement she made after she was arrested in which she said she was innocent," he explained. “They all say they’re innocent but when the bleak reality starts to set in. Some don’t co-operate until they’re in prison and then after a year or two they want no more of a seven by-twelve-foot cell. She’s going to be in a cell in Alexandria, Virginia, thinking about her situation, thinking about her daughters.”
Meanwhile, Vigil said Coronel might also turn on the cartel if it meant getting her hands on El Chapo's billionaire estate. “She has access to Chapo Guzman’s hundreds of millions. When you take a look at her she has very expensive purses and clothing," Vigil told The Sun. “I’m sure that Chapo Guzman put money in bank accounts that she has access to. A lot of the money from selling drugs in the United States wasn’t laundered but moved back and buried and she will have access to that."
CNBC's 'American Greed' starts airing on Monday, June 7, at 10:00 pm ET/PT.