El Chapo's wife 'may never be able to return to Mexico' following her time behind bars.
Emma Coronel Aispuro has been sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the Sinaloa cartel, which was led by her husband - real name Joaquín Guzmán - who was handed a life sentence in 2019.
Coronel Aispuro pleaded guilty in June to charges ranging from conspiracy to illegal drug distribution, and yesterday (Tuesday 30 November) she was sentenced to three years in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
The 32-year-old's attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said it may never be safe for her to return to Mexico following reports that she had cooperated with US authorities.
He said: "I'm not sure that she could ever go back home."
Before her sentencing in a federal court in Washington, Coronel Aispuro pleaded for mercy from US District Judge Rudolph Contreras.
Speaking through an interpreter, she said: "With all due respect, I address you today to express my true regret for any and all harm that I may have done, and I ask that you and all the citizens of this country forgive me."
She added that she feared the judge may find it difficult to be lenient because she is Guzmán's wife.
She said: "Perhaps for this reason you feel there is a need for you to be harder on me, but I pray that you not do that."
Coronel Aispuro was arrested in February at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and has been in jail since then.
Prosecutors alleged she 'worked closely with the command-and-control structure' of the Sinaloa cartel and conspired to distribute large quantities of drugs, knowing they would be smuggled into the US.
As Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Guzmán ran a cartel responsible for smuggling cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said.
They also said his 'army of sicarios' or 'hit men' was under orders to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who got in his way.
The prosecutor, Anthony Nardozzi, said Guzmán's wife had 'aided and abetted' the Sinaloa cartel’s objectives to smuggle drugs into the US and helped to import more than 450,000 kilograms of cocaine, 90,000 kilograms of heroin, 45,000 kilograms of methamphetamine and about 90,000 kilograms of marijuana.
Her arrest earlier this year was a surprise in part because authorities had made no move to arrest her over the past two years, even after she was implicated in her husband’s crimes.