She’s been called a “Mexican cartel queen” and a “queenpin.” Now she can also be called a criminal after Sandra Avila Beltran pleaded guilty in a cocaine trafficking case in Miami.
Avila, 52, admitted in Miami federal court to providing money to her then-boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinosa Ramirez, for travel and lodging to help him elude authorities from 2002 to 2004, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. She pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact.
Espinosa was a go-between for the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte Valle cartel of Colombia who pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges in 2009.
Avila faces up to 15 years in prison when the Mexican cartel queen is scheduled to be sentenced July 25, but is expected to receive a lesser sentence due to time already served, the BBC reported. The 52-year-old queenpin had been in jail since 2007 and was extradited from Mexico City to Miami in August.
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Avila faced a possible life sentence if she was found guilty at trial, the Miami Herald reported.
“Both sides felt the charge of accessory after the fact would be reflective of a fair and just result,” Avila’s attorney, Howard Schumacher, told the paper.
The Mexican cartel queen, also known as the Queen of the Pacific, was known for her expensive tastes, “gourmet food and beauty secrets,” the Herald reported. She even received Botox injections while imprisoned in Mexico City.
Espinosa had been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in the massive cocaine trafficking case, but had the sentence reduced after he cooperated with federal authorities. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
The cartel liaison admitted that he and Avila were involved in a drug deal involving 100 kilos of cocaine that was shipped to Chicago in 2001.
Avila and Espinosa were caught when their Miami-based buyer was busted, according to court records.
“Unbeknownst to [Espinosa], the purchaser was arrested by [the DEA in Miami] in early December 2001 and became a cooperating source,” the records showed.