Emma Coronel, the queen of extravagance in the Sinaloa clan

Without jewelry, without fancy clothes and without Louis Vuitton heels, an unrecognizable Emma Coronel dressed in a prison blue and green jumpsuit, appeared in his audience last February. The judge decreed prison without the option of bail for the accused of drug trafficking, as happened with her husband, Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, in 2019. Coronel, known as the Kardashian of Sinaloa for her style and curves, faces a sentence that in the worst case could be life imprisonment, in addition to a fine of more than 10 million dollars. The charges of the influence, Model and former businessman are for international trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, as well as conspiracy to help her husband in one of the most film-making escapes in history in 2015. From a cell in which she spends 22 hours a day, the Joaquín Guzmán’s wife also faces the decline of the glamor in which she lived sponsored by organized crime.

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Coronel awaits her trial without bail option, far from all the luxury she was used to in a prison without bail option in Alexandria, Virginia, in the United States. His lawyer has denounced the conditions in which the wife of El Chapo lives in jail. “He only spends a couple of hours in a little living room,” he pointed out. In addition, she has detailed that for most of the time she is confined in a cell that she does not share with other prisoners, she is dedicated to reading, although she has not specified which book. “Unfortunately they do not offer, there are no activities available for you to be distracted,” said Colón. Nor has he given details about whether he communicates with his two twin daughters, the result of his marriage with which he was one of the most wanted drug traffickers by the DEA.

During the trial in New York in which her husband was sentenced to life imprisonment, Coronel and her daughters were the center of the journalists’ attention, who had to circumvent her circle of bodyguards to reach her. Her style, her long and straight hair and her voluptuous lips that mark the aesthetics of drug trafficking women attracted the media at the entrance of the court. Dressed as Carolina Herrera, she allowed herself to be photographed through the streets of Brooklyn walking in her stilettos hand in hand with her daughters, who wore Burberry outfits. He said he felt “very good” despite the pressure of the process and never hid from his daughters where their father was. “They know their dad is in jail. They keep me away from lonely moments, they keep me busy, ”she acknowledged. The press began calling her The Queen of the Ice Heart for her unflappable character and staunch defense of one of the world’s most wanted criminals.

Coronel, who is a US and Mexican citizen, was no stranger to the world of drug trafficking before meeting her husband. Her parents were traveling along the west coast when Coronel was born “unexpectedly” on July 2, 1989, as she has commented in television interviews. Guzmán’s wife has denied it, but she is the alleged niece of Ignacio Coronel, responsible for the main methamphetamine trafficking to the United States for at least 12 years. His uncle and father were involved in drug trafficking in the early 1990s when El Chapo controlled the circulation of cocaine in Mexico. Ignacio Coronel was killed on July 29, 2010, in Zapopan, Jalisco, during a shootout with the Mexican Army. His father, Inés Coronel, accumulates several convictions for marijuana trafficking. Like his brother, Inés Omar Coronel, who is serving a sentence for the same crimes.

Emma Coronel grew up between the United States and her remote town near Angostura, in the state of Durango, in the center of what is known as the “golden triangle” of drug trafficking territory. From this small municipality she began to participate in beauty contests from a very young age and became the beauty queen at the Coffee and Guava Fair in the municipality of Canelas at the age of 17. At a dance to celebrate her coronation, she met her husband, the 51-year-old Mexican drug lord. Coronel left her then boyfriend to enter the world of drug trafficking as El Chapo’s third wife. They agreed to get married the day she came of age, just a few months after meeting.

With elaborate make-up and a serene gesture, Coronel has given several television interviews where, carefully measuring his words, he has given details of his private life. She said that El Chapo fell in love with her with his words, without giving her expensive gifts. “He conquered me with his kindness and education,” he detailed. Guzmán pushed her to study and decided to start a career in Communication Sciences at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, the state where she lived with her husband. He has assured that he has never exercised his career, but that he would have liked to dedicate himself to journalism.

Coronel is a woman who expresses herself with caution and elegance. She has always been comfortable with the media, which she easily dodges with a wide, lip-framed smile when asked about her husband’s business. “I’d rather not answer that,” she would reply in a sweet and shy voice every time the drug trafficking business that surrounds her is mentioned. She repeated that she had a normal, no-frills life, that she liked to go out with her friends to restaurants and to the movies, despite the fact that everyone in Sinaloa knows her. “I don’t dream of great things. Only with happiness and tranquility. I don’t want them to make a scandal of my life. I like to go to the beach, go out and have fun like anyone else ”, he told the cameras.

From her marriage to Guzmán she had two twin daughters in 2011, María Joaquina and Emalí Guadalupe. Coronel followed in her mother’s footsteps and traveled to the United States to give birth. The girls are half sisters of the other eight children of her husband from previous marriages, although Coronel acknowledged not knowing exactly how many Guzmán has. However, she has admitted that she knows three children, the fruit of relationships with other women, and that she is in charge of their education.

The fortune that El Chapo amassed during the boom of cocaine in the 1990s allowed Coronel to live surrounded by the luxury that drug trafficking pays for: four private planes, mansions scattered along the best beaches in Mexico and even a zoo on one of his many ranches. Miguel Ángel Martínez, known among the members of the Sinaloa cartel as El Gordo and El Chapo’s right-hand man, recounted in his trial the life of the new rich of the family. The ranch they owned in Guadalajara (Jalisco, the region where he began to build the cartel) had, among other things, four swimming pools and a collection of exotic pets such as tigers, lions, panthers and deer. “The guests traveled by train,” said El Gordo, in addition to describing the dozens of luxury cars owned by his partner and his frequent trips abroad.

The bubble of extravagance paid by drug trafficking faltered on February 22, 2014, when the Navy commandos arrested the capo in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. El Chapo, who was then the second most wanted drug trafficker, mocked the Mexican authorities who were on his heels to see her and her two daughters. That romantic gesture would cost him admission to the maximum security prison in El Altiplano. The stay, which lasted just over a year, ended with one of the most bizarre escapes that Mexico has experienced. The 1,500-meter tunnel that Guzmán dug with help from the showers to create a passageway, illuminated and ventilated that even had rails to remove debris, gave him freedom in July 2015. The court of the District of Columbia, in Washington, indicts Colonel having helped her husband during this movie escape.

Emma Coronel squeezed out the good years of her husband’s business by looking away. “I am not aware that he is dealing in drugs. I’m in love with him ”, she always insisted. While he awaited sentence, he assured that he lived from other businesses that she had. “I can’t tell you much about them, just tell you that they are not illegal. For example, I have irrigated land that I inherited from my father, ”she commented in 2018. She did not waste any opportunity to say publicly that her husband was innocent. Now, the US justice indicates that Coronel not only had absolute knowledge of the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel, but also participated in some of its operations. With El Chapo in jail, Coronel assumed an important role in communications with her husband’s drug trafficking partners, according to the court order. Among the pieces of evidence that FBI agent Eric S. McGuire included to obtain the arrest warrant against her, is an alleged letter from El Chapo in which he negotiates the heroin trade with an associate. “The mother of the twins will say something to you and my children. Please be attentive, compadre. She will explain it to you, ”says the document.

The former model sat alone on the defense bench, watching her husband wear the ties she bought him to wear during the trial. Behind huge sunglasses and impeccably dressed, she did not collapse when FBI agents read the transcript of messages between Guzmán and one of her lovers, Agustina Cabanillas Acosta. The exchange of messages between the two not only evidenced Guzmán’s infidelity, it also exposed his lover’s participation in the shipments and sale of cocaine and marijuana in the United States. She refers to him saying “love” and that he is “the most important person to her.” The agent who led the investigation assured that Acosta “became his personal toy” and that Guzmán “liked him very much.” These messages were read with Coronel in the courtroom. El Chapo looked for her with his eyes while the infidelity was exposed.

PHOTO GALLERY: The life of Emma Coronel, El Chapo’s wife

Once the sentence was passed, Coronel took advantage of the media pull and followed the Kardashian line to participate in a reality show called Cartel Crew (the Spanish Cartel band) on the VH1 channel. “I try not to regret what has already happened,” said Coronel in a conversation with Michel Blanco, son of Colombian drug trafficker Griselda Blanco, before the cameras. During the program, the wife of the most famous drug lord in the world insisted that she wanted to be a normal woman far from the prejudices that society has of her. “They judge us without knowing us. It’s hard because sometimes you want to do what you see everyone doing around you ”, she narrated dressed in white and from a yacht for the program. In addition, she took the opportunity to ask Blanco for advice on how to launch a clothing brand called El Chapo Guzmán: JGL, for the initials of her husband’s full name. That same year, Chapo’s daughter, Alejandrina Guzmán, launched her own brand called El Chapo 701. Neither company managed to stay in the market last that year.

However, Coronel’s businesses, far from being extinguished, diversified. From his Instagram account he devoted himself to his 31 years as influencer and promoted several local brands in Sinaloa, such as lines of beauty products, clothing, jewelry and even hamburger and ice cream parlors in the area. The account has just five posts, but it has 592 million followers. In it, El Chapo’s wife does not expose her private life, her hobbies or their daughters in photographs on the networks, unlike other celebrities. The few posts are professional photographs of her in which her followers praise her for her image and her style of dress. In the last one, published two months before her arrest, she poses as a model for a wedding dress with long blonde hair.

Finally, Coronel’s bubble of extravagance of drug trafficking burst. The magistrate Robin Meriweather has ruled the prison without option to bail for the defendant. From a jail in the United States, the beauty queen faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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