When Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera was arrested this weekend, he left behind twin daughters with matching pink suitcases and a wife who, like the wives of many crime bosses who came before her, was once a Mexican beauty queen in the Sinaloa.
In a fascinating writeup for The Daily Beast, Michael Daly outlines the history of Sinaloan beauty queens who marry drug lords, mafia men, and other ne'er do wells before their marriage or their lives reach premature ends. One woman who moved to Sicily with her mafia boss husband was later found murdered in their home. Another was kidnapped at age 17 by a prominent man in a Mexican drug family and forced to marry.
El Chapo's own courtship with Emma Coronel Aispuro, his third wife, began when she was a candidate for Queen of the Great Coffee and Guava Festival in Canelas. Mexican beauty pageants — at least the kind that serve as a farm league for drug cartel wives — are much more intense and involved than the American Show Up & Smile & Wave & Talk About World Peace pageants; according to Daly, it's traditional for aspirant beauty queens to throw parties to promote their candidacy. That's where this story gets weird and awesome.
At 11 a.m., some 400 men on 200 motorcycles roared into Canelas in black uniforms and fanned out through the town toting automatic weapons and pistols. A plane landed at the local airport with a band called Los Canelos. Six more planes later swooped in and El Chapo stepped from one of them in black leather sneakers. He was wearing a baseball hat, a jacket and jeans with a pistol stuck in his waistband. He was also carrying an automatic weapon, as were three planeloads of men in green, military-like attire.
The party commenced in the town square and Coronel announced that she and 54-year-old El Chapo were engaged to be married on July 3, her 18th birthday. Bodyguards made sure the couple had room to dance as the band began to play "Crossing Mountains and Streams," the song that El Chapo was said to have used to woo his bride-to-be.
He was basically IRL Gaston from Beauty & The Beast. But less hot.
[Come on. We both know that most women under 25 would have picked Gaston if given the choice. It's ok. Most people go through a strong d-bag phase; it's nothing to be ashamed of.]
Unfortunately, Emma Coronel Aispuro's story arc doesn't end like Belle's does. She was taken into custody with her husband, and released when police determined she had nothing to do with El Chapo's famous drug and murder business. A US citizen, Aispuro and her daughters are well within their rights to travel stateside and live freely, away from the strange intersection of drugs and pageants.
So maybe El Chapo's wife ended better off than fairy tale royalty. After all, when we left Belle, she was trapped in a castle with Angela Lansbury and a guy who looks a lot like Michael Bolton.