'El Chapo' Wife: He's Being 'Slowly Tortured' in Prison

El Chapo
A piñata in progress depicting the drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is seen in front of a television showing a news bulletin of him, at a workshop in Reynosa, in Tamaulipas state, Mexico, on January 13. In her first-ever interview, Guzmán's third wife said the kingpin has been "slowly tortured" in Mexican prison since his recapture in January. Daniel Becerril/Reuters

The wife of notorious drug lord and prison escapee Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán claimed in her first-ever interview that Mexican authorities have been "slowly tortur[ing]" her husband in prison since his January recapture.

Emma Coronel, 26, is Guzmán's third wife and a California-born former beauty queen. She met her husband in 2006, when she was 17 and Guzmán was on the run following his first prison escape, in 2001. The two married a year later, on Coronel's 18th birthday, and in 2011 she gave birth to twins just outside of Los Angeles. Their daughters are among the 19 children Guzmán is believed to have fathered.

Coronel's interview with Telemundo last week marks the first time she has publicly spoken about her eight years of marriage to the leader of the Sinaloa cartel—one of the world's most formidable drug trafficking organizations. According to accusations against Guzmán, the organization is thought to have trafficked at least 1.8 million pounds of cocaine to the U.S. and elsewhere between 2003 and 2014.

Guzmán, 58, escaped a high-security Mexican prison in July via a tunnel under his cell, and for months Mexican authorities were unable to apprehend him—that is until actor Sean Penn conducted a rare interview for Rolling Stone in October, which authorities say helped them locate the kingpin. Guzmán was recaptured in January and returned to the same Mexican prison from which he escaped.

Since Guzmán's return, he's been held in solitary confinement, Coronel says, where he is under constant surveillance by hooded, armed guards as well as police dogs.

"They say they aren't punishing him, but they certainly are," Coronel told Telemundo. "They're with him all day, looking at him in his cell. All day they're there. They're not letting him sleep, he has no privacy to use the bathroom."

Coronel claims that she was unaware of Guzmán's drug trafficking business, for which he faces seven criminal indictments in several U.S. states. The charges range from conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping to money laundering and drug distribution.

"Anything evil that happens in whatever part of the world is [blamed on] El Chapo," Coronel said, adding that he is not the most powerful mob boss in the world, though the Mexican government is making him out to be. "He's not violent, he's not rude, I've never seen him say a bad word to anyone," she added.

Coronel told Telemundo that she fears for her husband's life.

"We don't know if he's eating well," she said. "In general, we don't know what situation he finds himself in because we haven't been able to see him."

After their marriage, Coronel moved to Culiacán, Mexico, where she finished high school and went to university to study journalism. Asked about Guzmán's expected extradition to the U.S., she said, "I'll follow him wherever because I am in love with him."

Telemundo will broadcast the second part of its interview with Coronel next weekend.