El Chapo’s wife sparks outrage with upcoming appearance on VH1’s ‘Cartel Crew’

Emma Coronel, wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Emma Coronel, center, wife of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, arrives at federal court for the U.S. trial of the infamous drug lord.
(Craig Ruttle / Associated Press)

VH1 is taking some heat for casting Emma Coronel, wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in the second season of “Cartel Crew,” a docuseries that examines how the narcotics ring impacts people who have been in its circle.

The cable network announced the news Wednesday to a wave of backlash from skeptics accusing the program of “glamorizing” the ugly and violent history of Mexican cartels and their most infamous kingpin. Many also pointed out Coronel’s reputation for being complicit in her husband’s crimes.

“This is a sick and terrible decision by VH1 to have El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel, on its reality show ‘Cartel Crew,’” tweeted Mexico-based journalist Ioan Grillo. “There is a humanitarian catastrophe in Mexico from cartel violence. This is not a glamorous reality show.”


Another Twitter user attributed the controversial move to a twisted demand for crime-based content in the U.S., expressing sympathy for cartel victims and their loved ones.

“I wonder how the families of cartel victims feel about this glorification of their criminal enterprise,” the person wrote. “I’m sad that this is what America demands as entertainment. We’re the romans, cheering for the lions. ‘Are you not entertained?’”

A new teaser trailer sees Michael Corleone Blanco, son of “Cocaine Godmother” Griselda Blanco, and costar Marie Ramirez De Arellano respond to a call from Coronel, who apparently agreed to meet with them for the project. Coronel makes her grand entrance at the very end of the footage, looking blasé behind a stylish pair of sunglasses on a lavish yacht.

Throughout the remainder of the season, Coronel, 30, will discuss how Guzmán, 62, has changed her life, as well as her ambitions as a businesswoman.

Following years of run-ins with the law, Guzmán was most recently convicted in February 2019 of selling hundreds of tons of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana; conspiring to murder a slew of rivals; and running one of the world’s largest drug networks.

The Sinaloa cartel leader gained international notoriety by repeatedly evading police capture during several prison breaks that spanned more than 10 years thanks to his Houdini-style escape methods, involving secret tunnels, mountain hideouts and seaside apartments. Through his many arrests and escapes, Coronel has been by his side and even has been accused of aiding him in his breakout plots.

A former teen beauty queen, Coronel has hardly shied away from the spotlight. She triggered similar outrage earlier this year when she announced plans to launch a clothing line called El Chapo Guzmán, inspired by her and her husband’s style. Guzmán signed a contract from behind bars to help get the brand started.

“I am very excited and hope I can create things that everyone likes,” Coronel wrote on Instagram in April in a post that has since been deleted.

Emma Coronel arrives at the U.S. District Court in January 2019.
Emma Coronel arrives at the U.S. District Court in January 2019.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The pair’s fashion choices became a topic of conversation during Guzmán’s trial, when Coronel donned several high-fashion looks that suggested she might be preparing to step onto a runway rather than into a courtroom. At one point, the duo even arrived at an appointment in matching velvet blazers.

Coronel will make her first appearance on “Cartel Crew” in its Nov. 18 episode.