El Chapo's wife expected to plead guilty to federal criminal charges

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The wife of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is expected to plead guilty on Thursday to federal criminal charges accusing her of helping run her husband's multi-billion dollar criminal empire.

Emma Coronel Aispuro will be in a Washington, D.C. courtroom for the plea agreement hearing.

According to court records and her attorneys, she will plead guilty to helping run the Sinaloa cartel, the Mexican drug organization that has been responsible for 80% of Chicago's cocaine and heroin sales. Investigators say the cartel is tied to hundreds of murders and gun violence in Illinois and across the Midwest.

American law enforcement officials say 32-year-old Coronel has a deep knowledge of the cartel business from Mexico to Chicago, and that she know the intricacies of the drug distribution network that relies on planes, trains, trucks and even submarines staffed by an army of traffickers.

Coronel married Guzman in 2007. The couple has twin daughters.

Her arrest was a surprise, in part because authorities made no move to arrest her over the past two years, even after she was implicated in her husband's crimes. During Guzman's 2019 trial, prosecutors said she helped orchestrate his two prison breaks in Mexico.

But according to attorneys, her plea deal with federal prosecutors in will not call for testimony against those who continue to operate her imprisoned husband's drug cartel; a management team that includes his sons and relatives from several previous marriages.

Coronel is expected to receive a merciful sentence in exchange for not fighting the charges. It is likely to be less prison time than the 10 years to life that a drug conspiracy conviction could yield.

Her husband is locked up for life at the supermax prison in Colorado.

Officially, Thursday morning's court hearing goes by the understated description "change of plea." Coronel had entered a not guilty plea initially when arrested at Dulles International Airport in February 2020.

And even though she is not expected to cooperate with prosecutors, you can expect to see a sizable perimeter around her and the courthouse.
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