The wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the imprisoned former leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, was arrested on Monday night over her alleged involvement in international drug trafficking.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a regular attendee at her husband's trial two years ago, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia, and is expected to appear in a federal court in Washington on Tuesday.
Coronel, a former beauty queen who has twin daughters with Guzman, was charged in a one-count complaint with conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines for unlawful importation into the US, the US Justice Department said.
Coronel is accused of helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and was also "engaged in planning yet another prison escape" before Guzman was extradited to the US in January 2017, the Justice Department said.
As Mexico's most powerful drug lord, Guzman escaped through an entry under the shower in his cell to a mile-long tunnel with a motorcycle on rails. The planning for the escape was extensive, prosecutors said, and they claim that his wife playing a key role.
The court papers charge that Coronel worked with Guzman's sons and a witness, who is now co-operating with the authorities, to organise the construction of the tunnel that Guzman used to escape from the Altiplano prison to prevent him from being extradited to the US.
The plot included purchasing a piece of land near the prison, guns and an armoured truck, and smuggling Guzman a GPS watch so they could "pinpoint his exact whereabouts so as to construct the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him," the court papers say.
She has remained fiercely loyal to her husband, appearing every day in court during his trial.
“I will follow to wherever he is,” she told the Los Angeles Times of her husband in a 2017 profile. “I am in love with him. He is the father of my children.”
Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in 2019. His Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the US during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in recent court papers.
They also said his "army" was under orders to kidnap, torture and murder anyone who got in his way.
A lawyer for Coronel could not immediately be identified.