Mexican judges have removed a major legal obstacle preventing the extradition of Sandra Avila Beltran, a drug trafficker known as the “Queen of the Pacific,” to the US on cocaine trafficking charges.
Three federal appellate judges ruled that Avila could be extradited to the US to face charges connected to a series of cocaine busts in Chicago in 2001.
In 2004, a Florida district court issued an indictment against Avila, but it did not spell out her role in the Chicago busts. She was arrested in Mexico City in 2007 on drug trafficking and organized crime charges stemming from a 2001 seizure of 9 tons of cocaine in the port of Manzanillo, El Universal reported. The judges ruled that she could not be tried in the US in connection with this case, as she has been acquitted of it in Mexico, reported the Associated Press.
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Avila, born into an organized crime dynasty headed by her uncle Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “The Godfather,” is perhaps best known for her relationship with Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, alias “El Tigre.” Together, they worked as a key link between Mexico’s Sinaloa and Colombia’s Norte del Valle Cartels. After Espinoza was arrested alongside Avila in 2007, he was extradited to the US, where he cooperated with authorities.
There is a chance Avila will do the same if her extradition is completed; since she was once involved with Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias “El Mayo,” a key Sinaloa Cartel figure, she could be a asset for US authorities and win a reduced sentence.
The ruling on Avila’s extradition comes soon after the arrest of Judge Guadalupe Luna Altamirano, who had updeld her acquittal of the Manzanillo charges, and is now accused of ties to organized·crime.