The alleged "queenpin" of Mexico's West Coast drug trade, once celebrated in song as the "Queen of the Pacific," appeared in a U.S. courtroom today to face drug trafficking charges after being extradited from Mexico City to Miami.
Sandra Avila Beltran, who allegedly once controlled cocaine traffic from Colombia via Mexico to the U.S. Pacific Coast, had been held by Mexican authorities since she was pulled over and arrested in her BMW in 2007.
She was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2004 on two counts of cocaine trafficking. She had fought extradition while in Mexican custody, but arrived in Florida earlier today and appeared in court this afternoon to hear the charges read. She is scheduled to be arraigned next Tuesday.
Until her arrest Beltran, the niece of a notorious organized crime figure, allegedly reigned over a profitable business from her Mexico City apartment for years, while also having affairs with Colombian and Mexican drug kingpins. Her personal relationships, her sex appeal and her business savvy allegedly helped her control the cocaine conduit from Colombia. She was arrested soon after Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drugs.
The 2004 U.S. indictment also charges six men, known by aliases that include Piranha, Garfield, the Doctor and Iglesias, after the singer, with conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
Beltran was lauded as the "Queen" in a "narcocorrido" -- a drug ballad -- by the group Los Tucanes de Tijuana. As detailed on Thedailybeast.com, the song describes how "La Reina del Pacifico" lands at a luxe party in the mountains in a helicopter: "The boss ordered everyone to hold their fire. Out came a beautiful lady, dressed in camo and [carrying] and [AK-47]. . .. She was the famous Queen of the Pacific and its shores, the strong lady of the business, a true heavyweight. "
Beltran was also reportedly the inspiration for a 2004 novel called "The Queen of the South," about an enterprising Mexican woman who rises from drug smuggler's girlfriend to queen of her own empire. In 2008, she published her own book called "The Queen of the Pacific: Time to Talk," based on interviews with a Mexican journalist, in which she says she grew up around drug smuggling and drug smugglers but does not say that she herself trafficked drugs.