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Miami Drug Trafficking Charge For Cartel "Queen"

In 2012, Mexico agreed to extradite Sandra Avila Beltran to the United States. Law enforcement officials believed that she was heavily involved in the trade of drugs from Mexico to the United States. She recently pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking offense in a federal court in Miami. She entered a guilty plea to a single count of being an accessory after the fact to a drug trafficking organization. That organization was previously led by the woman's ex-boyfriend and was credited with linking the Norte del Valle drug cartel in Columbia with the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. For the single count against her, Ms. Beltran could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. She could also face a fine of as much as $5 million. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for July.

Sandra Avila Beltran admitted to giving money to the leader of a Colombian drug cartel to help him avoid arrest from 2002 to 2004. In 2007, the man was arrested and extradited to the United States. He pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking. Ms. Beltran was also arrested in Mexico and extradited to the U.S.

Avila is credited with finding new routes to smuggle drugs from Mexico's Pacific Coast into the United States. For this, she earned the nickname "Queen of the Pacific." As the niece of the man considered the "godfather" of the Mexican drug scene, she is considered a high profile figure and a natural target for law enforcement.

Source: Reuters, "Mexican drug cartel "queen" pleads guilty in Miami," by Kevin Gray, 24 April 2013

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