Notorious “Queen of the Pacific” Drug Madam Deported to Mexico

A cocorrido is a type of Spanish folk music which is said to date back to the Mexican Revolution of 1910. These catchy melodic ballads originally told the stories of revolutionary fighters and their heroic acts and escapades. In recent years this genre of music has evolved, and the similar narcocorrido has become a contemporary type of this musical tradition. It uses an accordion-based polka type technique as a rhythmic base. These new corridos, focusing on drug smugglers have added the word “narco” to the original genus which comes from the English word “narcotics”. Some music critics have also compared the very danceable narcocorrido songs to the gangster rap variety.

In a current song by the Spanish band Los Tucanes de Tijuana, it is said that Sandra Avila Beltran, 52 is connected to the lyric “The more beautiful the rose, the sharper the thorns.”

Last week Avila Beltran was deported back to Mexico after last month’s sentencing in Miami. She was among 129 individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which is the primary investigative division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She and the others were flown to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City and handed over to authorities.

Avila Beltran, dubbed “Queen of the Pacific” (La Reina del Pac√≠fico) by the mass media was first detained and arrested in September, 2007. She was charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs as well as other organized crime charges. Although some of the charges were hastily dropped she remained in custody for money laundering, and possession of illegal weapons. She was extradited to the U.S. in August, 2012 to face criminal charges brought about by the U.S. government. At the time of her arrest the Mexican government and U.S. officials considered her a significant link to the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel as well as the Colombian Norte del Valle Cartel.

Avila Beltran is no stranger to the illegal drug trafficking business. A family member, Rafael Caro Quintero was at one time the leader of the Guadalajara Cartel. Other family members have played a crucial part in her illicit career. Police in Mexico point out that she’s the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, who was at one time known as the godfather of the entire Mexican drug business. Gallardo is currently serving the balance of a forty-year sentence for the murder of U.S. DEA special agent Enrique Camarena in 1984. Additionally, her great uncle Juan Jose Quintero Payan was previously extradited to the United States for drug trafficking charges. Similarly her mother’s side of the family became involved in heroin trafficking in the 1970s and later expanded their operations to include the marketing of cocaine. DEA agents have stated that Avila Beltran never moved away from engaging in the viciousness that comes with the territory and that “she used the typical intimidation tactics of Mexican organizations.”, and in effect was a “third-generation” drug trafficker.

She had love affairs with more than a few recognized drug lords in her younger days. She twice married; both times to ex-police superiors who switched their careers by becoming drug traffickers. Both of her husbands were killed by hired assassins at a later time. Officials consider her rise to prominence in the drug trafficking trade largely to her most recent bond with Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, who goes by the name of “The Tiger.” Ramirez is known to be a significant member of the Colombian Norte del Valle cartel. Avila Beltran lived in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Hermosillo, Sonora, until in excess of nine tons of cocaine was discovered by police in 2001 on a ship in Manzanillo, Colima in the Pacific port of Mexico. The authorities, through their investigation, were able to track the cargo to both her and Ramirez. She had dodged authorities for years, until they tied her to this shipment.

The spotlight inadvertently fell on Ms. Beltran when it was she that alerted authorities, asking for their assistance, when her then teenage son was kidnapped and held for a $5 million ransom in 2002. Her son was eventually returned but the case raised suspicions into her activities. These suspicions and inconsistencies finally propelled an investigation into her way of life. More than four years after her son’s return the investigation that was carried out by more than 30 federal agents finally yielded enough evidence to lead to her arrest.

This April, in Miami federal court Avila Beltran pleaded guilty to the charge of being an accessory after the fact to the charge of drug trafficking. She was sentenced to just less than six years in prison. However, she was let go almost immediately; being credited for time she had already served in Mexico. She had been in custody in that country since 2007.

In Mexico, she was charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs, and charges of organized crime. She was acquitted of those charges in 2010 by a Mexican judge, but was extradited in 2012 and sent back to South Florida to face new charges of conspiring to smuggle large amounts of cocaine into the U.S more than 10 years ago.

Avila was released on July 30 from a Miami federal prison and handed over to ICE. She was deported from Miami back to Mexico last week.

In a news release, Field office director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations Adrian P. Macias stated that “The deportation of this convicted aggravated felon, as thousands of others, is the result of the robust working relationship ICE has with the government of Mexico”


An attorney who previously worked as a Federal prosecutor and knows the ins and outs of the Federal system can be a great asset in planning a proper strategy no matter what immigration issue is involved.

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