EL CHAPO'S beauty queen wife lived a life of luxury splashing his $5bn fortune and helping bust him out of jail before being banged up behind bars for three years on Tuesday.
Emma Coronel Aispuro was just 18 when she entered into the nightmarish romance with crime lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman – turning her into a "narco princess" involved in daring prison breaks and drug running.
The beauty queen plead guilty in a Washington court in June, following an investigation into her role in the business, which has spanned nearly two years.
She was accused of helping her husband, 64, to run the drug empire and helping him to escape from a max-security Mexican prison in 2015.
Prosecutors have alleged that Emma, now 31, lived a life of excess while playing a key role in her husband's drug enterprise.
She has never shied away from the spotlight and even appeared in a VH1 reality show shortly after her husband was caged for life in a supermax prison in Colorado.
But the glamorous billionaire's luxury life was turned upside down after she was sensationally arrested earlier this year over her alleged involvement in El Chapo's drug trafficking empire.
After the drug lord was arrested in 2014, Emma is alleged to have helped him direct the cartel from Altiplano prison and plot his escape, the Times reported.
She directed his sons to dig the tunnel through which he escaped – dug from land the family had bought – and facilitated another person's purchase of a warehouse, guns, and an armoured truck.
Eric McGuire, an FBI agent, said: “All understood that the purpose of facilitating Guzmán’s escape was to prevent his extradition to the US and to ensure his continued control over the Sinaloa cartel.
“They also discussed the need to get a GPS watch to Guzmán to pinpoint his whereabouts so as to construct the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him.”
Guzmán clambered down the hole and fled on a motorbike through the mile-long tunnel.
A quad bike whisked him away upon his emergance, transporting him to a private jet.
Emma also became the go-between for her husband and his lieutenants.
But how did mum-of-two Emma, the daughter of a cattle rancher from California, become involved with one of the world's most ruthless criminal?
She is said to have caught El Chapo's eye at a beauty pageant in Mexico in 2007.
It is believed the drug dealer, then aged 47, leaned on the organisers of the event to ensure Emma won first prize.
The pair married later that same year on the teenager's 18th birthday.
But why would a rancher's daughter run into the arms of a criminal?
According to reports, Emma's family are far from innocent.
Her rancher dad is said to have grown marijuana and opium poppies while her uncle was drug kingpin Igancio "Nacho" Coronel – one of El Chapo's most trusted men.
Both her father Ines Coronel Barreras and brother Omar are mid-ranking gangsters inside the cartel, it is reported.
The FBI intercepted phone calls with Ines discussing business dealings with El Chapo in 2011.
In the calls, Emma's grovelling father is said to have called his criminal lord son-in-law "senor".
Emma told the LA Times how El Chapo wooed her, saying: "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.
LIFE OF CRIME
"He tends to win over people by his manner of being, of acting, the way he treats people in general."
El Chapo, 62, was jailed for life in 2019 for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana to the US.
Rather than shy away from publicity, Emma appeared to revel in the limelight during her husband's trial.
In court, she wore eye-catching outfits and waved and blew kisses at her spouse.
She sat through hours two months of testimony including listening to hours of evidence given by her husband's former mistresses and others who turned against him.
Following the trial, Emma launched her own fashion line.
And later in 2019, she appeared in VH1 reality show Cartel Crew where she filmed a scene with the son of a Colombian drug lord on a yacht.
Yet, she does not appear to have filmed any more scenes and the series did not continue in 2020.
Emma, a dual American and Mexican citizen, was detained in February at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, the Department of Justice said.
The narco queen pleaded guilty to knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine for a period of at least six years.
She also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of engaging in transactions with a foreign narcotics trafficker.
As part of her plea agreement, she additionally admitted to conspiring to help her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.
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