The wife of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has pleaded guilty to a range of charges after being accused of helping to run his vast empire.

Emma Coronel Aispuro faced accusations she aided El Chapo in managing the Sinaloa cartel, assisting his 2015 prison escape and conspiring to distribute illegal drugs.

The 31-year-old could face life in prison after admitting a drug distribution charge at a federal court in Washington DC.

She also pleaded guilty to other charges of money laundering and engaging in financial dealings for the drug cartel, which could carry a combined 30 years in prison – though she is more likely to spend around a decade in jail.

As part of her plea agreement, she also admitted conspiring to helping her husband escape in 2015 from Altiplano,
a Mexican maximum security prison.

Coronel, who was born in California and holds both US and Mexican citizenship, could also be fined up to $10 million (£7.1 million).

Wearing a green jumpsuit and white face mask to enter her plea before District Judge Rudolph Contreras, she said she understood the charges and repercussions of her guilty pleas.

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The judge has set a tentative sentencing date of 15 September.

The former beauty queen was arrested in February on allegations she relayed messages to help her husband traffic drugs between 2012 and 2014 and she continued delivering messages to Guzman during prison visits after his arrest in February 2014.

In July 2015, Guzman escaped from a federal prison in Mexico, through a tunnel leading to the Santa Juanita neighbourhood in Puebla.

He was previously arrested in 2001 but had escaped from a Mexican prison with the help of a maintenance worker.

In February 2019, Guzman, 64, was convicted for masterminding the drug empire in a high-profile trial in New York.

He was sentenced to life plus further 30 years, and is being held in a supermax prison in Colorado.