“MX” for Borderland Beat
By Keegan Hamilton from VICE News
|The ex-cartel leader’s wife expected to be taken into custody, a sign she plans to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement, sources tell VICE News.|
U.S. authorities trumpeted the recent “arrest” of Emma Coronel Aispuro, the 31-year-old wife of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, but sources familiar with the situation tell VICE News she actually turned herself in and was prepared to face federal charges when she landed Monday at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.
Sources who spoke to VICE News on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the information say Coronel’s surrender signals the existence of a cooperation agreement, where she could provide information or testimony in exchange for leniency in her own case.
Coronel made her initial court appearance Tuesday, with her attorneys agreeing to keep her jailed indefinitely as her case proceeds. She stands accused of conspiring to smuggle illicit drugs into the U.S., and helping her husband tunnel out of a maximum-security prison in Mexico. She has not yet entered a plea in response to the charges.
Coronel’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, who also served as Chapo’s lead trial counsel, accused federal authorities of leaking when asked about the surrender. VICE News does not disclose the identities of confidential sources, unless authorized to do so by the sources themselves.
“I’m stunned that the feds would do this,” Lichtman said. “There’s zero chance it’s anyone else. And it’s sickening. She’s got kids. I’m happy to respond to this allegation if you tell me who leaked it. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to respond to a cowardly anonymous leaker with a pointed on the record rejoinder.”
The Department of Justice declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for the FBI, which is handling Coronel’s case.
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