03/01/13- Sandra Ávila Beltrán (52), known as the “Queen of the Pacific” (“La Reina del Pacífico”), was recently removed from solitary confinement for the first time since August of last year. Ávila Beltrán is being held in a prison in Miami, Florida, for charges of drug trafficking, to which she has pled not guilty. She is accused of conspiracy to import and distribute shipments of cocaine to the United States between 1994 and 2004.
La Reina was extradited to the United States in August 2012, and immediately placed at the Miami prison. According to her lawyer, Stephen Ralls, she was removed from solitary confinement on Monday, February 25, and transported to join the general population of inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility.
The judge on the case, Michael Moore, is analyzing a petition brought forth by Ávila Beltrán’s lawyers in which they argue for charges to be dropped against her on the grounds that the U.S. government relied upon false information to extradite her. Attorney Ralls alleges that the public prosecutor knew the information given to the Mexican government was false when the U.S. Department of State gave the order for Ávila Beltrán’s extradition. Her lawyer is pushing for a hearing to resolve this issue before her trial begins on March 26, which has been postponed since September 2012.
Ávila Beltrán was initially detained by Mexican authorities in 2007 along with her Colombian boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinosa, “El Tigre.” They were accused of transporting nine tons of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico on the ship Macel, which was allegedly decommissioned in 2002 off the port of Manzanillo on the Mexican side of the Pacific Ocean. Aside from her familial relationship to Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo–known as “the godfather” of drug trafficking in Mexico who formed the Guadalajara Cartel–, the Mexican government has linked Ávila Beltrán to Colombian drug traffickers through her relationship with El Tigre and also to the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, Mexico’s most wanted man. La Reina’s parents, also have familial links to the ex-leader of the Guadalajara Cartel, Rafael Coro Quintero, a cartel which was most active during the 1980s.