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US arrests El Chapo’s wife, accusing her of helping her run the drug empire

Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Mexico’s most notorious drug dealer, better known as El Chapo, was arrested on Monday and charged with helping her husband run his multibillion dollar criminal empire and d ‘plotting to get him out of prison after his capture in 2014.

Ms. Coronel, a former beauty queen, had been under investigation for at least two years by US federal authorities for complicity with her husband, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, convicted in 2019 during a trial in Brooklyn for orchestrating a huge drug plot. and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.

Court documents filed in Ms Coronel’s case say she relayed messages for Mr Guzmán that helped him carry out drug shipments from 2012 to 2014 and escape capture by legions of US authorities and Mexican women who had pursued him for years. During Mr Guzmán’s trial, evidence showed Ms Coronel was also one of the main conspirators in a sophisticated plot to get him out of the Altiplano prison in Mexico by digging a close tunnel a mile long in the shower of his cell.

Ms. Coronel, 31, is a dual Mexican-American citizen with roots in both Southern California and the city of Culiacán in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which has long served as the base of operations for Mr. Guzmán’s anti-drug organization, the Sinaloa cartel. She was taken into custody at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, and is scheduled to appear for the first time in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday. His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, who also represented Mr Guzmán, declined to comment on the arrest.

While it is unusual for law enforcement to prey on the wives of prominent drug figures, prosecutors in Mr. Guzmán’s trial have presented substantial evidence that Ms. Coronel, unlike other wives drug trafficker, was deeply involved in her husband’s criminal affairs.

They presented BlackBerry messages clearly stating that she had helped Mr. Guzmán run his operations – sometimes with his own father. Other posts indicated that she was intimately involved not only in Mr. Guzmán’s notorious tunnel escape from the Altiplano in 2015, but also in helping him escape capture by US and Mexican authorities after a raid. botched in 2012 in the Mexican resort of Cabo San Lucas.

During Mr Guzmán’s trial, his former chief of staff, Dámaso López Núñez, told the jury that Ms Coronel had sought to help her husband escape once again after his takeover in 2016 and his return to the Altiplano. According to Mr. López’s testimony, Ms. Coronel devised a plot to bribe the top Mexican prison official, but before the plan could be carried out, Mr. Guzmán was extradited to the United States for to be judged there.

Ms Coronel, who is Mr Guzmán’s third – if not fourth – wife and mother of two of his many children, grew up in the drug business. Documents filed by the court indicate that his father, Inés Coronel Barreras, who was detained in 2013 in Mexico, was one of Mr. Guzmán’s main lieutenants.

Prosecutors have filed charges against several members of Mr. Guzmán’s nuclear family. His two eldest sons, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, still at large in Mexico, have been charged in the United States for years. Two of his youngest sons, Joaquín Guzmán López and Ovidio Guzmán López, were indicted in Washington just days after their father’s conviction and also remain fugitives.

The FBI said Ms Coronel married Mr Guzmán around 2007. The marriage – in the rugged mountainous region of Culiacán – took place when Ms Coronel was 17 and Mr Guzmán was more than double his age.

In an interview with the New York Times during Mr Guzmán’s trial, Ms Coronel defended her husband, saying she did not recognize him as the drug lord prosecutors described him. “I admire him as the human being that I have met,” she says, “and the one that I married.”

She was a constant presence in the New York courtroom during the three-month trial, often showing up in the latest fashion trends. Fiercely loyal to her husband – despite her serial diligence – Ms Coronel orchestrated one of the trial’s most dramatic non-legal moments, sending a message to one of Mr Guzmán’s mistresses, Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López, who one day appeared as a witness.

After Ms Sánchez López proclaimed her love for Mr Guzmán from the podium, Ms Coronel arranged for her husband to arrive in court the next day with a burgundy velvet smoking jacket, identical to the one she was wearing. It was a sign that Ms Coronel was Mr Guzmán’s wife and that Ms Sánchez López, in her blue prison uniform, was just the other woman.

On Monday evening, it was not clear why federal authorities arrested Ms Coronel after implicating her in her husband’s crime more than two years ago.

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More arrests made amid new calls to investigate Capitol attack

A week after an angry mob stormed the Capitol, Congress struggled on Wednesday to make sense of the most serious incursion into its home in more than two centuries as lawmakers called for new investigations and that federal authorities were deploying across the country, arresting several others. suspects, including two police officers from Virginia and a firefighter from Florida.

The wave of arrests and calls for inquiries came as the House laid a landmark second impeachment charge against President Trump and federal law enforcement officials continued to examine whether the attack on Capitol Hill included coordinated efforts of small groups of extremists and was not just a mass protest that got out of hand. All of this took place as official Washington remained crouched on the defensive, much of the city surrounded by protective fences and armed troops encamped inside the Capitol complex.

Led by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot, more than 30 lawmakers on Wednesday called for an investigation into visitor access to the Capitol the day before the riot. In a letter to Acting House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms and the United States Capitol Police, lawmakers, many of whom served in the military and said they had been trained to ” recognize suspicious activity, ”demanded responses to what they described as an“ extremely high number of outside groups ”admitted to the Capitol on January 5 at a time when most visits were restricted due to the pandemic of coronavirus.

Separately, the Capitol Police Inspector General’s office said it was opening a potentially large-scale investigation into the siege-related security violations. The Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan federal watchdog, said it would examine what role, if any, members of Congress could have played in inciting the mob of Trump supporters who breached metal barricades and smashed windows January 6, seeking to do so. cancel the election results.

Banned from Twitter last week, Mr. Trump issued a brief statement on Wednesday, calling on Americans to “ease tensions and calm people.” But senior officials, including some in the Pentagon, have argued they are deeply concerned about inauguration day, when President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is supposed to be sworn in.

Seeking to keep their local counterparts informed, Christopher A. Wray, director of the FBI, and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security, on Wednesday briefed more than 5,000 law enforcement officials of the potential threats Across the country. . They stressed in particular that violence could erupt this weekend in the 50 buildings of the Capitol of the States of the country.

For the first time since the riot in Washington, Jeffrey A. Rosen, the Acting Attorney General, released a public statement, saying in a video released Tuesday night that he would not tolerate violence or other criminal behavior and that Mr. Biden would, like all of his predecessors, take office on January 20 in a peaceful transition ceremony. Mr Rosen also pledged to hold those who stormed the Capitol responsible for what he called an “intolerable, shocking and tragic episode,” and asked the public to share with the FBI all that he knows about aggression.

The federal investigation – a growing investigation that has already trapped more than 70 people – continued on Wednesday as charges of disorderly conduct and entry into tight space were filed against the officer Jacob Fracker and Sgt. Thomas Robertson, two members of the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia who witnessed the riot while off duty.

According to a criminal complaint, the pair broke into the Capitol last week and posed for a photo under a statue of John Stark, an Revolutionary War general, posting it on a social network. The complaint mentioned a subsequent message from Sergeant Robertson who wrote that the photo showed “2 men ready to really put the skin in the game and stand up for their rights.”

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in an interview Wednesday that one of his officers, an 18-year veteran of the force, was also under investigation in connection with the attack on Capitol and was likely to face charges.

“It is absolutely clear that he has entered the Capitol,” said Chief Acevedo, “and we anticipate that he will be charged federally.”

Federal agents made further arrests in New York, Maryland, Texas and Florida on Wednesday, including a firefighter from the town of Sanford, near Orlando. Firefighter Andrew Williams has been charged with illegal entry and disorderly conduct, and his attorney, Vincent Citro, told a Florida news station that Mr. Trump was to blame.

“The president and the Capitol police have encouraged contemptible behavior,” said Citro. “Mr. Williams was not involved in any of this.

New charges have also been filed against one of the riot’s most viewed figures: a bearded man pictured inside the Capitol in a sweatshirt emblazoned with the ‘Camp Auschwitz’ logo.

The man, Robert K. Packer, 56, was arrested in Newport News, Va., And charged with illegal entry and disrupting official government activities. In a lawsuit filed in the Washington District Federal Court, prosecutors said a witness identified Mr. Packer because he regularly wore the anti-Semitic sweatshirt while shopping at Newport News.

As more people are charged in connection with the attack, it has become clear that many of those who went to Washington last week were not only angry but heavily armed and in some cases dangerous. This point was made evident by court documents filed Wednesday in the case of Cleveland G. Meredith Jr., who wrote in a text message that he wanted to put a bullet in the “noggin” of President Nancy Pelosi at the “Live television,” prosecutors said.

According to the newspapers, Mr. Meredith crossed the country with a Tavor X95 assault rifle, a 9mm pistol painted to resemble an American flag and around 2,500 rounds of ammunition, including at least 320 5.56 caliber armor-piercing rounds. . Prosecutors say Mr Meredith, who has a history of drug addiction and mental illness, also threatened to kill Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser.

“I can go to the mayor’s office and put a 5.56 in his head,” he wrote in a text message, according to court documents.

This mood of outrage was echoed in the tumultuous congressional debate over impeachment, which dragged on throughout the day. The sense of recrimination has spread beyond Washington’s borders as local politicians in other states have leveled accusations.

A group of Arizona state lawmakers on Wednesday released a letter they sent a day earlier to Mr Rosen and Mr Wray, calling for an investigation of two of their own colleagues, Mark Finchem and Anthony Kern, who, according to social media posts, were rioting on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers also mentioned that two Arizona congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, both Republicans, planned the rally leading up to the riot with so-called Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander. . A spokesperson for Mr Biggs denied having played a role in organizing the rally. Mr. Gosar appeared to be on good terms with Mr. Alexander, frequently tagging him in Twitter messages. At a rally last month outside the Arizona state capitol where Mr. Gosar spoke, Mr. Alexander called the congressman “the spirit animal of this movement.”

“It is vital for any current or future federal investigation, and ultimately for the Arizona public they represent, that we learn what these elected officials knew about this planned insurgency and when they knew it,” the said. letter from legislators.

A similar desire for answers – and for justice – was expressed by Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado and military veteran who led the call for an inquiry into whether any of his colleagues in the Chamber played a role in instigating the assault on the Capitol. At least five people died in the attack and the accompanying protests.

“To the extent that there were members of the House who were complicit, and I believe there had been, we will pursue appropriate remedies, including expulsion and ban from holding elected office for the rest of their lives, ”Crow said in an interview. “They will of course be investigated and prosecuted if that is what the facts of the investigation show.”

Adam goldman and Manny Fernandez contribution to reports.

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The FBI arrests a man who had worn zip ties in the Capitol.

The FBI on Sunday arrested a man who was pictured in the Senate Chamber dressed in military-style clothing and holding zip ties after internet researchers. managed to piece together his identity.

Law enforcement officials said the man, Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, was arrested in Nashville on federal charges. One of the officials said authorities recovered several weapons. No further details were available. The charges are expected to be announced shortly.

Efforts to reach Mr. Munchel prior to his arrest failed. He is one of more than a dozen people indicted by federal authorities in connection with the attack on the Capitol.

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Notable arrests after the riot at the Capitol

On Wednesday, a crowd of Trump supporters, encouraged by President Trump himself, converged on the U.S. Capitol, swept through law enforcement and rampaged through the halls of Congress.

The insurgency resulted in the deaths of a Capitol Hill police officer who was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher and a rioter who was shot dead by a policeman as she tried to force her way through the lobby of the President, very protected, just outside the chamber of the House. . Three others died as a result of “medical emergencies” on the Capitol grounds, according to the authorities.

In the days following the riot, federal and local authorities began arresting people they believed were involved. More arrests are expected as investigators examine photographs, videos and social media posts to identify protesters. The FBI has received more than 40,000 tips, including photos and videos, a number that does not include tips that people have submitted over the phone.

The Justice Department announced on Friday that it had indicted 13 people. Dozens more have been charged in Washington, DC Superior Court with illegal entry, curfew violations and gun crimes.

Here are some of the people who face charges.

Mr Angeli, a well-known conspiracy theorist who was pictured in the Capitol on Wednesday, was arrested on Saturday. He entered the building shirtless, his face painted red, white and blue, and wearing a horned fur headdress. He also carried a spear, about six feet long, with an American flag affixed just below the blade, according to the Department of Justice.

Dubbed Q Shaman for his propagation of QAnon’s baseless conspiracy theories, Mr. Angeli has been present at pro-Trump rallies in Arizona since the 2016 election.

He was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in a building or restricted land without legal authorization, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Mr Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Fla., Was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Friday night after a widely circulated photograph showed him smiling and waving his hand as he stepped out of President Nancy Pelosi’s desk . He wore a knit Trump beanie with the number “45” on the front.

Credit…PCSO / via Reuters

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office jail reservation records offered few details of Mr Johnson’s arrest, but showed he had been taken into federal custody. The archives list a few identifying tattoos, including one that says “God, wings, cross”. He has been charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any building or restricted land without legal authorization, one count of theft of government property and one count of violent entry. and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds.

Mr Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., Was pictured sitting with his feet up on a desk in Ms Pelosi’s office. He was arrested Friday in Bentonville, Ark. He is scheduled to appear in federal court on Tuesday and will eventually be extradited to Washington, DC.

Credit…/ EPA, via Shutterstock

He was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a building or restricted land without legal authorization, violent entry, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and theft of public money, property or records.

Mr Meredith has been accused of threatening Ms Pelosi after traveling to Washington for the pro-Trump rally on Wednesday and texting he would put “a bullet in his head on Live TV,” the officials said. federal authorities.

Federal agents said he was staying at a Holiday Inn in Washington and had weapons in his camper-style trailer, including a Glock handgun, pistol, Tavor X95 assault rifle and hundreds of cartridges.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mr. Meredith has ties to the QAnon conspiracy movement and that he erected a billboard in Acworth, Georgia, in 2018 that read “#QANON” with the name of his company, Car Nutz Car Wash. He has been charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, possession of an unregistered firearm and illegal possession of ammunition, court records show.

Mr Jensen was caught on video pushing far into the Capitol, ignoring warnings from a law enforcement officer. The FBI arrested him early Saturday morning.

The video, taken by Igor Bobic of HuffPost, shows the officer stepping back as Mr. Jensen approaches him, walking up the stairs and through the halls of the building.

Mr Evans resigned from the West Virginia House of Delegates on Saturday after participating in the assault on the Capitol. He faces two federal charges: knowingly entering or remaining in a building or restricted land without legal authorization, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds.

Mr. Evans, a Republican elected to West Virginia House in November, filmed himself entering the Capitol on Wednesday. Like many other members of the crowd, he made no effort to conceal his involvement. “Were in!” he says in his video. “Were in! Derrick Evans is on Capitol Hill!”

Bradley Rukstales, a former managing director of an Illinois marketing company, has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a building or restricted land without legal authorization and one count of violent entry and conduct disorderly on the Capitol grounds, the Justice Department said.

Mr Rukstales’s Cogensia company, based in Schaumburg, Ill., Said in a statement Friday that he had been put on leave. “Sir. Rukstales’ actions were his,” the company said in a statement. “He was not acting on behalf of our company and his actions do not in any way reflect our company policies or values.” The company’s acting chief executive told CBS Chicago on Friday that Mr. Rukstales had been fired.

Reporting was provided by Maggie Astor, Adam Goldman, Michael Levenson and Will Wright.