08/20/11 — Sandra Ávila Beltrán, commonly referred to as the Reina del Pacífico (Queen of the Pacific) has escaped extradition to the United States based on charges of smuggling of narcotics and money laundering, at least for the time being. Detained in 2007 along with her then boyfriend Colombian Juan Diego Espinosa, Ávila was charged with smuggling several tons of cocaine from Colombia into Mexico on a ship named the Macel. In 2010, however, both were acquitted of these charges as the proceeding judge found that there was neither “suitable or conducive proof that the defendants (Ávila and Espinosa) had been the individuals who ordered or carried out the acquisition, transportation, and introduction of the 7.973 kilos and 47 grams of cocaine onto the Macel,” reported El Economista. Then in February of this year, Ávila was sentenced to a year in prison for the possession of an illegal firearm. For more information on her sentencing, read here.
The United States has since then requested Ávila’s extradition, but she has petitioned to the Mexican government that they refuse this request. Upon hearing her plea, the Mexican courts decided to indefinitely postpone her extradition telling the United States that unless they are willing to agree not to retry Ávila for crimes already tried in Mexico, the request would not be granted. Although reports indicate that there is much evidence that Ávila maintains close ties with the Sinaloa Cartel, courts maintain that there is no concrete evidence of illegal dealings with the organized crime group, nor are they able to prove that money that had been transferred between her accounts was acquired illegally. Despite the alleged lack of evidence, Ávila continues to be held in a Mexican federal prison until further notice.