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Wife of drug kingpin 'El Chapo' arrested in Virginia on US drug charges

Patrick J. McDonnell, Sonja Sharp, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Guzmán would search for her from the moment he was led into the courtroom each day. The couple often waved and flirted, sometimes to the consternation of U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan.

When she brought their twins to court, Guzmán couldn’t tear his eyes from them. Coronel often fussed to her husband’s lawyers about his ties, his expression, his health.

Although she rarely spoke to the press, she never shied from the cameras outside of court. Her chic outfits — designer jeans, sky-high stilettos, military blazers and velvet body suits — got plenty of attention, and she was fastidious about her makeup. But suspicion hung over her.

Her uncle, Ignacio Coronel — the so-called King of Crystal for his part in the smuggling of methamphetamines to the United States — was killed in a 2010 shootout with the Mexican military. He was said to be number three in the Sinaloa cartel hierarchy. Authorities allege that Coronel’s father, who is currently imprisoned in Mexico, “coordinated narcotics transports” for the Sinaloa cartel.

During the trial, many speculated she was more involved in her husband’s business dealings than she let on. She was obliged to pass through the metal detector twice before a sensitive witness was brought in to testify, out of concern she might smuggle in a cellphone to take his picture.

As the weeks dragged on, it was impossible for Coronel to conceal her boredom. She fidgeted in her seat and played with her long hair, and was scolded for using her lawyer’s phone in the courtroom.


Her arrest reverberated across social media, especially in Mexico, where many suggested tongue-in-cheek that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would help get her returned to Mexico — as he did in the case of a former Mexican defense chief arrested in Los Angeles last year for alleged drug trafficking.

“Don’t worry Emma,” wrote ex-President Vicente Fox on Twitter. “The president will come to the rescue!!”

McDonnell reported from Mexico City and Sharp from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Kate Linthicum in Mexico City, Tracy Wilkinson in Washington and special correspondent Cecilia Sánchez in Mexico City also contributed to this report.


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