Crime and Violence

La Reina del Pacífico deported to Mexico after release from U.S. prison

Sandra Ávila Beltrán. Photo: NY Daily News
Sandra Ávila Beltrán. Photo: NY Daily News

08/20/13 – Sandra Ávila Beltrán, known as the “Queen of the Pacific” (“La Reina del Pacífico”), was repatriated to Mexico from the United States the morning of August 20, less than one week after her release from a Miami, Florida federal prison. Ávila only served 12 months of her 70-month sentence handed down last year by a federal judge in Florida for her involvement in drug trafficking–specifically importing and distributing cocaine to the United States between 1994 and 2004–, and for her work with her Colombian boyfriend Juan Diego Espinosa, “El Tigre,” in transporting cocaine from Colombia to Mexico. In July 2013, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the five years Ávila had served in a Mexican prison prior to her extradition to the United States in August 2012 counted towards her 70-month sentence, thus ordering her release.

Despite her removal from the Miami prison, La Reina del Pacífico–the niece of the infamous Mexican drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, “the Godfather,” who created the Guadalajara Cartel–is not yet in the clear. According to Ávila’s lawyer, Jorge Espino Santillán, his client faces charges of “operating with illicit proceeds,” although the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) had previously reported that Ávila had no outstanding charges.

Ávila–who was transferred to detention centers in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, before being flown from El Paso to Mexico City –was immediately turned over by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to PGR officials upon landing. According to Univisión Noticias, she is now en route to the women’s prison in Puente Grande, Guadalajara–the state capital of Jalisco. Although Ávila’s lawyer had filed for an amparo on August 14 with the Fourth District Court in Criminal Proceedings to keep his client out of prison while the remaining criminal charges are processed, Ávila was only awarded temporary freedom while the courts determined if the amparo would indeed be granted. The ruling, however, was overturned before Ávila’s deportation after the PGR presented the new charges of illicit proceeds.

To read more about La Reina del Pacífico’s history, including her arrest, extradition, and recent deportation, click here.


“’La Reina del Pacífico’” Removed from Solitary Confinement.” Justice in Mexico Project. March 1, 2013. 

“’La Reina del Pacífico’” puede llegar hoy a México deportada.” Terra Noticias. August 14, 2013.

Fausset, Richard. “Mexico’s ‘Queen of the Pacific’ heading home, but what’s next?” Los Angeles Times. August 15, 2013.

Hernández, Hugo. “Será detenida la Reina del Pacífico cuando llegue a México.” Organización Editorial Mexicana. August 17, 2013.

“Sandra Ávila Beltrán, la Reina del Pacífico, llegó a México.” Univión Noticias. August 20, 2013. 

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