Wife of drug king 'El Chapo' sentenced to three years in prison 

Washington (AFP) – A US federal judge sentenced the wife of jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to three years in prison Tuesday on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

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The sentence was less than the relatively light four years requested by prosecutors, with Judge Rudolph Contreras acknowledging that Emma Coronel Aispuro was only a young teenager when she married the ruthless drug czar and readily pleaded guilty after her February 2021 arrest.

Coronel, a 32-year-old former beauty queen who had twin nine-year-old daughters with Guzman, apologized to the court.

"I express my true regrets for any and all harm that I may have done," she said in Spanish before the sentence was announced.

"I am suffering as a result of the pain that I caused my family."

The judge said she would also pay $1.5 million in a restitution deal agreed before the hearing, and that she would be given credit in her sentence for nine months already spent behind bars since her arrest.

Prosecutors and her defense lawyers alike described Coronel as not involved in the core business of Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, which shipped hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs into the United States, according to the US Justice Department.

"The defendant's actual role was a minimal one," said prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi.

"The defendant was not a leader, organizer, boss or other type of manager. Rather she was a cog in a very large wheel of a criminal organization," he told the court.

But the prosecution also noted that Coronel had a key role in helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.

Nevertheless, Nardozzi said, "the defendant opted to take responsibility for her actions" immediately after her arrest.

Upon pronouncing her sentence, the judge wished Coronel good luck.

"I hope that you raise your twins in a different environment than you've experienced to date" he told her.