A US judge sentenced Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, to three years in prison on Tuesday on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
The sentence was less than the relatively light four years requested by prosecutors, with the judge acknowledging that Coronel was only a teenager when she married the ruthless drug czar and she readily pleaded guilty after her February 2021 arrest.
With long hair and dressed in a dark suit and white turtle neck shirt Coronel, a 32-year-old former beauty queen, apologised to the court.
"I express my true regrets for any and all harm that I may have done," she said in Spanish before the sentence was announced.
"I am suffering as a result of the pain that I caused my family."
She asked the judge to make it possible that she be allowed to raise her twin nine-year-old daughters.
"They are already growing up without the presence of one of their parents," she said.
"I beg you to please not allow them to grow up without the presence of their mother."
The judge said she would also pay US$1.5 million in a restitution deal agreed before the hearing, and that she would be given credit for nine months already spent behind bars since her arrest.
Prosecutors and her defence lawyers alike described Coronel as not involved in the core business of Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, which shipped hundreds of tonnes of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs into the United States, according to the US Justice Department.
"The defendant's actual role was a minimal one," said prosecutor Anthony Nardozzi.
"The defendant was not a leader, organiser, boss or other type of manager. Rather she was a cog in a very large wheel of a criminal organisation," he told the court.
But the prosecution also noted that Coronel had a key role in helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015.
Nevertheless, Nardozzi said, "the defendant opted to take responsibility for her actions" immediately after her arrest.
Pronouncing her sentence, Judge Rudolph Contreras wished Coronel good luck.
"I hope that you raise your twins in a different environment than you've experienced to date" he told her. (AFP)