Thursday, August 9, 2012
U.S. authorities have extradited one of the most high-profile women accused of connections with Mexico's drug trade
Mexican police have handed over Sandra Avila Beltran, known as "The Queen of the Pacific," to U.S. marshals at an airport in central Mexico, Mexico's Attorney General's Office said in a statement. She will face cocaine trafficking charges in a federal court in Florida, prosecutors said. Avila was once a key drug trafficking link between Colombia and Mexico, prosecutors have said. She was arrested in Mexico City on September 28, 2007, smiling before cameras as authorities trumpeted her detention. Since then, her life has been the subject of a best-selling book and a popular ballad. "The more beautiful the rose, the sharper the thorns," says one line in "The Queen of Queens," Los Tigres del Norte's song describing Avila. Her eye-catching nickname has regularly made headlines as Mexico's case against her made its way through the nation's courts. A judge convicted her on money laundering charges, but ruled that Mexican prosecutors didn't provide enough evidence to convict her of drug trafficking. For more than two years, Avila has tried to block a U.S. extradition request. A Mexican judge ruled that she could be extradited in June 2012. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Avila was suspected of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. along with Juan Diego Espinosa, a Colombian national who was also known as "The Tiger." U.S. authorities extradited Espinosa from Mexico in 2008.