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El Chapo's Beauty Queen Wife Says She Fears for His Life

In her first interview ever, 26-year-old Emma Coronel, discusses the incarceration of the infamous drug lord, their life together, and Mexican telenovela star Kate del Castillo.

by Nathaniel Janowitz
Feb 22 2016, 9:10pm

Screenshot via Youtube

"I am afraid for his life," said Emma Coronel of her husband — imprisoned drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

Broadcast on the television network Telemundo last night, Coronel's first ever interview appeared to feed into a wider campaign by Chapo's legal team to highlight mistreatment that they allege he is suffering in prison since he was recaptured January 8.

"They want to make him pay for his escape," she said of Guzmán's flight from maximum-security prison last July that was a huge embarrassment for the Mexican government. "They say that they are not punishing him. Of course they are."

Coronel said that he was being watched in his cell all the time by hooded armed guards with police dogs and that they were not allowing him to sleep or even go to the restroom in privacy. All of this, she said, were so affecting his health that his life could be in danger.

In the interview, the young former small-town beauty queen said Chapo was a loving father to their two twin daughters, and that he was being targeted unjustly by the Mexican government.

Coronel appeared visibly anxious during the interview when she discussed his previous arrests, his sordid reputation, and his relationship with Mexican telenovela star, Kate del Castillo.

Related: Kate del Castillo Was 'Stabbed in the Back' by Sean Penn Over El Chapo

Last week, one of Guzmán's lawyers, Juan Pablo Badillo, claimed that Guzmán had complained of "physical and mental torture" and that he was being "turned into a zombie" from being woken up every two hours by security guards.

The Mexican National Security Commission responded with a statement in which it denied Guzmán was being tortured. The Commission said prison protocol included a roll call every four hours to make sure the inmates are okay.

Another member of Guzmán's legal team, José Refugio Rodríguez, insisted that El Chapo is being deliberately deprived of adequate sleep in an interview on Radio Fórmula on Monday. He also said the drug lord had complained of high blood pressure, with systolic pressure up to 190, which was causing headaches, as well as pain in his eyes and ears. He claimed that El Chapo had never had issues with his blood pressure before his January 8 incarceration.

Rodríguez also said that a scheduled and authorized visit with Guzmán had been cancelled at the last minute last Friday, when he was already in the prison, with no reason given.

Coronel said she had only been able to visit her husband once in the six weeks since he was captured, and then only for 15 minutes.

She described him as a loving husband who refers to her as "mi reina" — my queen — and is not the malevolent global influence that he is made out to be.

"The government invents El Chapo to have someone to blame. They made it look like he's the most powerful capo in the world to cover up more important things," she said. "They have no evidence against him."

Emma Coronel's marriage to Guzmán in 2007 is, itself, part of the legend.

She was raised in the mountains of the Mexican state of Durango in a region famed for its drug production and controlled by El Chapo's Sinaloa cartel. She became a beauty queen in a remote town in the middle of a huge party that lasted several days and which Chapo himself reportedly attended. They married soon after that, on her 18th birthday.

Coronel is now 26 years old, and Guzmán is either 58 or 62, depending which of two suspected dates of his birth is used.

While she insisted it was love in the interview, some have suggested that Coronel's marriage to Chapo served a function of tying together powerful drug clans.

She has been widely reported to be the niece of Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a high ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel, who died in a shootout with government forces in July 2010, and was known as the King of Crystal for his control of the methamphetamine trade. Coronel denied the family tie in Sunday's interview.

Her father and a brother, both of whom are named Inés Coronel, were arrested in 2013. Her father was alleged to be a top lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel.

Another brother, Edgar, was arrested in October 2015 and accused of supervising the construction of the tunnel that El Chapo used to escape from prison last summer.

Last night's interview was conducted by renowned Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández, who received a number of death threats after publishing a book about Guzmán's cartel and its alleged close relationship with Mexican officials in 2010.

Hernández asked Coronel about El Chapo's relationship with telenovela actress Kate del Castillo, who brokered the infamous Sean Penn Rolling Stone interview that was released the day after his January capture, with whom he exchanged several flirtatious mobile phone messages.

Related: Sean Penn, Who? — The Leaked Messages Between El Chapo and Kate del Castillo

"At no time did I feel jealous of Kate," said Coronel. She added that she "admired" the telenovela star who is now facing possible charges in relation to her plans to make a movie about Guzmán, and allegations that she sought to include him in her tequila business.

Coronel did, however, express concern about the impact on her two daughters who were present the last time Guzmán was arrested in February 2014 inside a beachside condominium.

"It makes me deeply sad to think that in these moments they can't see their father, that when they're older they can be judged, that someone might single them out for things they have no idea about," she said.

She also said she is preparing herself for his possible extradition to the United States.

Prior to his 2015 escape, the Mexican government had vocally rejected the idea of extraditing Guzmán. Now, after his recapture, the government has said it supports the idea but only once it goes through the proper legal procedures — which officials have said could take years.

In recent weeks speculation has gotten louder that Guzmán may be in talks with the US authorities over dropping his legal challenges to extradition.

Mexican Interior Minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, fuelled the rumors in a radio interview last week when he said that Guzmán had the right to negotiate an agreement with the US government in exchange for a guilty plea.

Coronel, who was born in Los Angeles in 1989, is a dual citizen. Her two daughters with Guzmán were also born in the United States and have American citizenship.

"I'll follow him wherever because I am in love with him," she said.

Related: After El Chapo: The World's 10 Most Wanted Drug Lords

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz

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