The wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman played a key role in his infamous 2015 escape from prison through a tunnel dug into the shower of his cell, a witness testified Wednesday at the kingpin's US trial. Damaso Lopez Nunez, once a loyal lieutenant for Guzman, told the jury that Emma Coronel helped her husband communicate with his sons and others who coordinated the breakout at Altiplano prison in central Mexico, the AP reports. Coronel "was giving us his messages," Lopez told a New York jury, adding that she also was in on meetings about the escape.
The testimony cast a harsh spotlight on a spouse who has sat quietly in the courtroom for most of the trial, which began in mid-November. As described by Lopez, the escape in 2015 was far more elaborate than one Guzman pulled off in 2001 by hiding in a prison laundry cart. His followers bought property near the facility as the starting point for the mile-long escape route, Lopez said. Work went on for months and was so loud it could be heard behind bars—to the point where inmates were complaining about it, he said. On the day of the breakout, a motorcycle was used to race Guzman to the exit of the tunnel, where an ATV took him to a warehouse, the witness said. Guzman was later flown to his mountaintop hideaway. (Last week, Coronel laughed as Guzman's mistress testified.)