The wife of recaptured Mexican cartel leader Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera has claimed to have no knowledge that her husband is a drug trafficker.
“I am not aware that he traffics drugs. I am in love with him,” said 27-year-old Emma Coronel in an exclusive interview with Spanish-language US television station Telemundo on Sunday.
The former beauty queen, who is El Chapo’s third wife and has two twin daughters by him, said she has decided to speak out publicly in support of her husband – the world’s most notorious drug lord who reportedly controls 60% of the heroin market in the United States.
“They don’t let him sleep. He has no privacy, not even when he wants to go to the bathroom”
It was Guzmán’s reported flirting with Mexican soap opera actress Kate del Castillo and his constant communications with her through text messages and third parties that helped Mexican intelligence track down the Sinaloa cartel leader.
El Chapo is now under heavy guard at El Altiplano prison, the maximum security facility from which he escaped last July through a tunnel dug underneath his cell.
“They don’t let him sleep,” Coronel said. “He has no privacy, not even when he wants to go to the bathroom. There are dogs watching over him.”
Prison officials at El Altiplano move a handcuffed El Chapo to a different cell every night. Guard dogs accompany him wherever he goes and are used to taste his food in case someone tries to poison him.
A 24-hour watch has been placed on El Altiplano’s most famous prisoner.
Guzmán’s lawyer has denounced his client’s conditions, saying that prison authorities have treated him like “a zombie.”
“He is a good man. He isn’t mean, insulting, and I have never heard him use a bad word”
Denying this claim, Mexican officials said they are respecting El Chapo’s human rights guarantees.
Emma Coronel met Guzmán at a ranch when she was 17 and had just won a beauty contest in Sinaloa state. At the time, El Chapo was 51 and controlled one of the biggest criminal operations in the world.
While she was dancing with her then boyfriend, El Chapo smiled at her and later asked her to dance.
“Of course, I accepted,” she said, “because at the ranch you have to dance with everyone who asks you, even though you have a boyfriend.
“He is a good man. He isn’t mean, insulting, and I have never heard him use a bad word. His daughters adore him and are always asking about him,” she said.
After 13 years on the run since his first prison break, El Chapo was visiting with his family in an apartment in Mazatlan when the Mexican navy broke in and captured the drug kingpin in February 2014.
Coronel said she will continue to follow her husband wherever he is taken.
English version by Martin Delfín.