WASHINGTON — The wife of Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison for laundering money, prosecutors announced, ahead of the start of a separate trial on drug-trafficking charges against her in Brooklyn.
Emma Coronel Aispuro, 32, was accused of using a shell company with her husband’s name to launder some $12 million in cash and pay taxes, though not his drug trafficking, between July 2011 and June 2015. She and her twin sister, Margarita Roman, were previously sentenced to six years in prison after the prosecution lost an appeals court bid to get them thrown out of the case.
During a status hearing on Tuesday, a prosecutor from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michael Anderson, said Coronel was expected to be sentenced on Dec. 18, and he expressed some concern that Coronel had lost a husband who maintained contact with the proceedings and may be fighting to delay the sentencing. Anderson said that prosecutors have not issued new arrest warrants, and they must present their evidence to Coronel to bring her to trial.
A representative for Coronel’s attorney, Adam Perlmutter, declined to comment on the case.
Coronel, who earned the nickname “Mi Amelia” (My Amelia) during her time as a maid in their home, met Guzman when she was 15, when he was already the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. She has been under indictment on drug charges in New York since 2015. She pleaded guilty last month to money laundering.
In court papers last week, Coronel said she had been contacted by “witnesses with information” that would be “incomplete” in the Brooklyn trial and that Anderson should refer back to them before the upcoming sentencing. That’s what federal prosecutors and Coronel did in court on Tuesday, but Anderson indicated that Coronel had been “fronting” her husband, which is another reason they had to ask the judge to set a new sentencing date. The defense, though, had argued they should be given time to prepare on her behalf, and she told Anderson she wished she could.
Coronel’s prosecution was delayed last month when her lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges, saying that the U.S. government had no evidence that her husband was behind a large pot-plant sale along the border in 2013, leading Coronel’s lawyers to say it could only have been she and her sister. A federal judge denied the defense’s motion on Friday.
Coronel is scheduled to go on trial in the Brooklyn federal court of U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, who was tapped by a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn to hear the New York trial. The judge previously presided over her husband’s case in New York.
“All of us are doing our best to accommodate her desire to get there as soon as possible,” Cogan told the court on Tuesday.