Wife of 'El Chapo' released from U.S. custody after sentence for role in Mexican drug cartel

FILE - In this July 17, 2019 file photo, Emma Coronel Aispuro, center, wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, arrives for his sentencing at Brooklyn federal court, in New York. Emma Coronel Aispuro is expected to plead guilty to federal criminal charges after she had been charged in the U.S. with helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire. She is due in court Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Washington for a plea agreement hearing, according to court records. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Emma Coronel Aispuro, center, wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, arrives for his sentencing in federal court in New York in 2019. She was released from federal custody Wednesday. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of former Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, has been released from federal custody, according to authorities.

Coronel, 34, served three years in federal custody for her role in helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire. She was accused by federal prosecutors of smuggling drugs into the United States and helping her husband tunnel his way out of a maximum-security prison in Mexico in 2015.

Coronel turned herself in to federal authorities in 2021 and pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy charge and knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute drugs.

In June, she was transferred from a federal prison in Fort Worth to a halfway house in Los Angeles County.

A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that Coronel was released from custody Wednesday and will remain on supervised release for two years, but did not disclose any additional information.

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Coronel’s attorney, Mariel Colon, said in a statement that her client is “very happy to move on with this new chapter in her life, and she is ready to be with her girls again.”

The former teenage beauty queen was born near San Francisco and married Guzmán when she was 18 and he was 50, according to a 2016 Times interview with Coronel. Because she is a U.S. citizen, Coronel was in Los Angeles County in 2011 when she gave birth to her twin daughters while Guzmán was a fugitive in hiding.

Since the 1990s, Guzmán had been arrested by Mexican authorities on multiple occasions as he rose through the ranks of the Sinaloa cartel. He also orchestrated numerous prison escapes, including a 2001 trip through a load of prison laundry, which led to a 13-year run from authorities. During that time, Guzmán met Coronel at a beauty pageant in Canelas in the Mexican state of Durango, according to her retelling.

“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,” Coronel said.

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Guzmán was captured again in Mexico, but broke out of the maximum-security Altiplano prison near Mexico City through an underground tunnel in July 2015. Federal prosecutors claimed Coronel smuggled a GPS watch to her husband in prison and helped him escape.

When he was finally captured, Guzmán was wanted across multiple jurisdictions in the U.S. and in Mexico.

But it was the Eastern District of New York that filed criminal charges against him that led to his extradition to the U.S. in 2017. He is serving a life sentence plus 30 years in ADX Florence, a supermax prison in Colorado.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.