Less than three weeks after Emma Coronel Aispuro be convicted in a Washington DC court for participating in the criminal emporium of her husband, the drug dealer Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, his lawyer revealed what is the legal strategy with which they try to receive a sentence of less than 10 years in prison, the mandatory minimum punishment for those who conspire to distribute drugs and launder money.
That legal resource known as ‘escape valve’ ( safety valve) benefits those who They do not have a criminal record, did not commit violent crimes and have pleaded guilty. This exception to mandatory minimum sentencing laws only applies in drug-related cases and when offenders pose a “lesser threat” to public safety. Its goal is to save taxpayers money and reduce overcrowding in the American prison system.
“She meets these requirements. That is why we are confident that you can qualify for the safety valve and give him a much lower sentence than he would have had if he had gone to trial, “said Mariel Colón Miró, Coronel Aispuro’s lawyer, in an interview with journalist Patricia Janiot for Univision’s Janiot PM program.
The lawyer compared that in similar cases the defendants have received sentences of between five and seven years in prison, although he did not reveal what he believes would be the punishment that Colonel Aispuro could receive.
“If we compare it with similar cases, this is the case. Obviously we have to bear in mind that there is no such case. Why? Because she is the wife of Mr. Joaquín Guzmán, ‘El Chapo’. Obviously I understand that this can influence a little ”, said the litigant.
When this case was presented in a Washington DC court in February, Judge Robin Meriweather warned that if Colonel Aispuro was found guilty she would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $ 10 million fine. The lawyers of the third wife of ‘El Chapo’ trust that the guilty plea signed by their client in June will allow him to go free in a few years.
For now, the partner of the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel continues under a regime of solitary confinement in a Virginia jail, for which they are forced to be in a cell 23 hours a day. Her California-born twin daughters, like her, have not visited because of restrictions related to the pandemic.
Why risk the lives of your daughters?
The United States government accuses her of three counts: conspiracy to distribute drugs, conspiracy to launder money and violate the criminal penalties of the Kingpin Act by participating in transactions and deals with the assets of Guzmán, who several years ago was booked by the Department of the Treasury.
Colón Miró insisted that his client has not agreed to collaborate with the authorities to give them information related to the Sinaloa Cartel, a party led by the four children and a brother of ‘El Chapo’, Aureliano Guzmán Loera, alias ‘El Guano’, for whom a reward of five million dollars is recently offered for information leading to his capture.
“That is always a possibility for everyone, for everything demanded. Let her do it. No, I do not believe. There is no need, ”said the lawyer.
– Why? Janiot asked him.
– Because she has some girls in Mexico and it is very well known what happens to cooperators, to cooperators’ families. So why risk the lives of your girls, the lives of your family? When there are other resources that can help her and allow her to go out (free) at the same time as if she had cooperated, she responded.
According to her lawyer, Emma Coronel would not enter the US Marshals protected witness program either, to which some of those who testified against Guzmán at his trial have accepted.
“It is that she does not need to because if she serves her sentence, accepts her responsibility, qualifies for this resource (the so-called ‘escape valve’), she fulfills the years she has to serve, she is an American citizen, she can stay here. Joining a protected witness program is changing your whole life, your whole identity. So if there is another option why not? ”.
At the moment, only two people who testified against Guzmán are known to be protected witnesses. Others have already been released from the prison system and their location is unknown, while information on several more has disappeared from the government database.
In this regard, Colón Miró said that the legal firm that defended Guzmán is not surprised. “We knew it, that they were going to receive very significant reductions. That many were going to be walking next to you now. The way I see it: they grabbed one (‘El Chapo’) and released 15 ”.