Photo: Queen of the Pacific
Mexican authorities have extradited Sandra Avila Beltran, a.k.a. the “Queen of the Pacific,” to the United States, where she is wanted on drug-trafficking and criminal conspiracy charges.
The suspect was handed over Thursday to personnel from the U.S. Marshals Service at the Toluca airport outside this capital after a two-year process in which she had used up all her appeals, the federal Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
The AG’s office said Avila will be tried in a federal court in Miami on charges of participating - along with Juan Carlos Lopez Correa and Juan Diego Espinosa - in a group dedicated to trafficking cocaine and other drugs from Colombia to the United States.
The AG’s office said the U.S. indictment states that Avila Beltran coordinated, stored and moved cocaine shipments in Mexico for eventual shipment to the United States.
It added that Lopez Correa was responsible for organizing the shipment of large quantities of cocaine from different parts of the hemisphere to Mexico and then from that country to the United States.
Avila has been in custody since September 2007.
In late 2010, she and Espinosa, who was extradited to the United States in December 2008, were acquitted of charges of conspiracy to smuggle several tons of cocaine into Mexico and other charges.
Last year, an appeals court upheld the acquittal of the pair on charges of organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering, saying there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.
In June of this year, a Mexican federal court ruled that Avila could be extradited to the United States.
The judges overturned a January ruling blocking her handover on grounds that U.S. authorities were seeking to try her on the same charges as those she had already been acquitted of in Mexico.
While one of the two U.S. charges against Avila is related to the Mexican prosecution, the other is separate, the federal tribunal found.
The ruling meant that Avila could be tried in the United States for the delivery of 100 kilos of cocaine to Chicago in 2001.
Avila is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “El Padrino” (The Godfather), who is serving a long prison sentence in Mexico; and grand-niece of Juan Jose Quintero Payan, a co-founder of the Juarez cartel who was sentenced in the United States to 18 years in prison on drug-trafficking charges.
Said to have been a key intermediary between Colombian cocaine producers and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, Avila is the most prominent woman in the hyper-macho world of the Mexican drug trade.
Mexican media have compared Avila to the main character in Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South), which was subsequently turned into a hit television miniseries.