A Mexican woman known as the "Queen of the Pacific," who had been sentenced to 70 months in prison in Miami as a convicted accessory to drug traffickers, was deported to Mexico Tuesday, officials said.
Sandra Avila Beltran, 52, was among 129 detainees flown by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from El Paso to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, where she was turned over to Mexican authorities.
Photos released by ICE showed a handcuffed Avila Beltran being escorted onto the plane, her once-black hair showing gray streaks.
She was given a quick medical checkup at the airport before she was quickly whisked off to a prison in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit to await trial on a money-laundering charge, according to a statement from the Attorney General's Office.
"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," Adrian P. Macias, field office director of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso, said in a statement. "The partnership goes hand-in-hand with ICE’s commitment to smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with major drug offenses."
Avila Beltran was detained in Mexico City on Sept. 28, 2007, and extradited to the U.S. last year. She pleaded guilty in April to being an accessory after the fact in an organization that included Juan Diego Espinosa Ramirez, her boyfriend at the time.
A statement signed by Avila said she provided money to Espinosa for travel and lodging so he could evade arrest by authorities between 2002 and 2004.
Espinosa pleaded guilty in the U.S. in 2009 to cocaine trafficking charges.
Avila Beltran, who could have faced up to 15 years' imprisonment, pleaded guilty under a plea bargain that gave her 70 months in prison but credited her with time served since 2007.
ICE officers in Miami had placed a detainer on Avila Beltran while she was in custody at the Miami Federal Detention Center. She was released and turned over to ICE on July 30.
At the time of her earlier arrest, prosecutors said Avila spent more than a decade working her way to the top of Mexico's drug trade, seducing several notorious kingpins and uniting Colombian and Mexican gangs.
Avila comes from a family of drug lords. She is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, "the godfather" of Mexican drug smuggling, who is serving a 40-year sentence in Mexico for drug smuggling and the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico's western Jalisco state. Another uncle, Juan Jose Quintero Payan, was extradited to the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges.
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