El Chapo’s wife reportedly turned herself in to US authorities and may turn on the ruthless Sinaloa Cartel.
Emma Coronel Aispuro was detained on Monday, February 22, at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, the US.
She has been charged with distributing cocaine, heroin and other drugs across the border.
The 31-year-old former beauty queen has also been accused of conspiring with others to help Chapo – real name Joaquin Guzman Loera – escape from Altiplano prison in July 2015.
However, sources told Vice that she was already prepared to face federal charges when she landed at the airport – hinting at the existence of a co-operation agreement between Coronel and investigators.
One said: “Her attorney at sentencing is going to argue, ‘She took it upon herself to face charges,’ she didn’t make the government go out and arrest and extradite her.
“She came out of Mexico. It would have been quite a process to get her extradited.”
Another senior US law enforcement official said her arrest “was a long time coming… it wasn’t something that came out of the blue”.
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Coronel was raised in the mountains of Durango, part of Mexico's "Golden Triangle" of narcotics operations.
She first met the drug lord when she was a teenage beauty queen in the northern Mexican city of Durango.
El Chapo reportedly made sure she triumphed in the Coffee and Guava festival.
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The pair married after she turned 18 in 2007 and had twin daughters, spending their entire married life with Guzman either in jail or on the run as the leader of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel.
Describing her first encounter with the ruthless criminal, Aispuro earlier told the Los Angeles Times: "I would say what won me over was his way of talking, how he treated me, the way we began to get along – first as friends and from that came everything else.
"He tends to win over people by his manner of being, of acting, the way he treats people in general.”
Less than two weeks after El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison in 2019, she posed on a gondola in Venice and shared images of cake with the caption: “What diet?”
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Piggybacking on her husband's fame and seeking to cash-in on her celebrity outside Mexico, Coronel launched a clothing brand the same year.
She also appeared in a US reality show about mafia families.
"I consider myself a normal woman," Coronel said in VH1's Cartel Crew show, speaking aboard a yacht.
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"It's sad that they judge us without knowing us. It's hard."
The Daily Star has approached the office of Coronel’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman, the Department of Justice and the FBI.
They each declined to comment to Vice.
Coronel has repeatedly denied any involvement in her family’s criminal activities.
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