Will El Chapo’s Wife’s 3-Year Sentence Win the Drug War?

by | Dec 2, 2021


US District Judge Rudolph Contreras has just sentenced Emma Coronel Aispuro to three years in jail. She’s the wife of noted Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is serving a life sentence in a US federal penitentiary. She recently pled guilty to helping her husband run his drug empire.

Yippee! The decades-long drug war must be almost over! US drug warriors are on the verge of winning! What other explanation could there be for US officials now going after the spouses of drug lords?

Talk about pathetic. Do federal prosecutors and Judge Contreras really believe that jailing this woman is going to do anything to win the drug war? If they really do believe that, they are hopelessly naive.

Preventing Coronel from raising her 9-year-old twin daughters for three years will not have any effect on the drug war whatsoever. It will not deter drug lords and drug cartels from continuing to sell drugs and kill people. It’s just a complete waste of time and money. Coronel’s three-year incarceration will accomplish nothing.

I find it amazing that federal lawyers, judges, and DEA agents can’t see this. All they have to do is watch the excellent Netflix series Narcos and Narcos Mexico. Doing that will be worth more than anything these people learned in law school.

Every time they bust a drug lord, such as Pablo Escobar, he is immediately replaced with his competitors. Moreover, sometimes the resulting violence from the new competition is worse than it was before the bust.

As the Narcos series document, this cycle has been going on since the 1960s. They bust one drug lord amidst all sorts of media hoopla, and then they immediately begin their next campaign against the drug lords who replace the busted one.

The cycle never ends. It is perpetual. How come federal lawyers, federal judges, and DEA agents can’t see that. Their obtuseness is absolutely amazing.

I got my law degree in Texas in 1975. I returned to my hometown of Laredo, Texas, to practice law. Laredo is on the US-Mexico border. At the time, the area was already a major hub for the importation of drugs from Mexico. My very first jury trial was a drug case in federal court.

I got to know several DEA agents in town. They were in their early 30s. They were friendly, dedicated, and committed. They really thought they were going to win the war on drugs.

The same held true for federal prosecutors. They fiercely prosecuted drug cases, thinking that they were saving America from the scourge of drugs.

Unfortunately, many, if not most, federal judges became fierce drug warriors too. I say “unfortunately” because the drug war caused many of them to lose all sense of objectivity when it came to the drug war. They wanted to play their part in winning the war on drugs. So, the policy of many of them was to mete out the highest possible sentence to drug-war defendants. One example was a major drug-war proponent in San Antonio, US District Judge John H. Wood, Jr., who was proudly known as “Maximum John” because his policy was to mete out the highest possible sentence in drug cases.

Today, all those federal prosecutors, DEA agents, and federal judges who were trying to win the drug war in the 1960s and 1970s are undoubtedly retired or dead.

What did their efforts accomplish? Nothing, except of course for fat federal pensions for them. Today, they have been replaced by lawyers and DEA agents who have the exact same mindset — that they are going to win the war on drugs by busting drug lords like El Chapo and, now, going after their spouses. It doesn’t even remotely occur to most of them that their efforts are as futile as the efforts of their predecessors in the 1960s and 1970s.

The irony is that there is a way to get rid of all the drug lords and drug cartels, along with the massive violence that comes with black-market (i.e., illegal) activity. That way is through drug legalization. If the drug war were ended, every single drug lord and drug cartel would be out of business immediately. That’s because they cannot compete in a legitimate legal market against reputable businesses, such as pharmacies.

The problem is that ridding America of drug lords, drug cartels, and drug violence would also mean no more need for federal drug-war prosecutors, many federal judges, and DEA agents, along with the massive federal bureaucracy that comes with them. That’s now the biggest obstacle Americans face in ending the drug war — that federal bureaucrats will lose their jobs if drugs are legalized, just as drug lords will lose their jobs as well.

Don’t be surprised to see the drug warriors busting more spouses of drug lords. It gets them publicity, which ensures continued budgets for their drug-war activities. But make no mistake about it: Like the Energizer Bunny, the drug war will just keep going and going and going.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.


  • Jacob G. Hornberger

    Jacob George Hornberger is an American attorney, author, and politician who was a Libertarian candidate for president in 2000 and 2020. He is the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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