Sandra Ávila Beltrán, also known as the “Queen of the Pacific” for her alleged cocaine smuggling and money laundering activities, was released from a Mexican prison after winning her appeal. Most people picture the highest level leaders in a drug trafficking organization as rich and perhaps slightly rotund older men with bushy mustaches and expensive cars. But one of the Sinaloa Federation’s top operatives in no way fits this stereotype.
Ávila has a storied past, growing up as the niece of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, “The Godfather” of Mexican drug trafficking, and becoming a highly involved trafficker with the Sinaloa Federation in her own right. She is one of the few women to have risen to such prominence within a Mexican cartel, although that prominence came to a screeching halt after her arrest in Mexico City in 2007.
She was first tried in Mexico on money laundering charges and acquitted, then extradited to the U.S. in 2012 on drug smuggling charges, according to a report on CNN, She pled guilty to a minor charge of providing financial assistance to another trafficker, then was deported back to Mexico to serve an additional five years in prison. However, a Mexican judge ruled that the conviction was not valid because she’d already been tried for the same crime in Mexico and the United States, according to the Attorney General’s office.
Ávila’s arrest and exploits have been the subject of a popular ballad and best-selling book. Mexican prosecutors said her romance with Colombian Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez brought together Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel with Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel to facilitate cocaine smuggling into the United States.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more the activities of Mexican drug and human smugglers in her new book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.