Glamorous Gangster: Alleged Drug Lord Captured

A Mexican woman accused of money laundering has been called a glamorous gangster for her alleged position as a drug lord and the only woman in the top ranks of the Mexico-Columbia drug cartel.

Sandra Avila Beltran, 45, was recently apprehended in Mexico City and accused of laundering money for billions of dollars worth of drugs that travel from Colombia to Mexico -- eventually making their way to the United States.

Her story reads like a Hollywood screenplay, and now the United States wants to extradite her.

In the 2000 film "Traffic," Catherine Zeta Jones played the wife of a prominent drug dealer who takes over the family business after he is sent away to prison. At the time the film was winning Oscars, another raven-haired woman was just emerging in Mexico's real-life drug cartel.

Law enforcement officials say Beltran is one of the world's most powerful drug kingpins, but Beltran claims she is no different from millions of other Mexican women.

"I'm a housewife and a businesswoman," she said during a police interrogation, adding that her business is "clothing and property rental."

Her rise to power has come complete with a nickname, "Queen of the Pacific," and even her own song, "The Song for the Queen of the Pacific," which describes her as a "top lady who is a key part of the business."

She is thought to be a great seducer of men, with a taste for fast cars, high fashion and luxury.

She has had two husbands, both Mexican cops gone bad who were later executed, apparently by Mexican law enforcement, according to a Newsweek report. And her current boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinosa Ramirez, is a powerful Colombian drug lord nicknamed "the Tiger."

Despite her high-profile lifestyle, for a long time Beltran avoided leaving police any evidence. But in 2002, she unexpectedly tipped her hand when she contacted authorities for help when her teenage son was kidnapped for a whopping $5 million ransom.

She eventually got her son back, but not without raising suspicions that launched an investigation.

It took more than four years and 30 federal agents to close in and finally arrest Beltran.

She may be an alleged criminal, but she is first a lady, and Beltran reportedly charmed her captors into allowing her to freshen her makeup before images of her being taken into custody hit Mexican airwaves.

While Beltran waits to stand trial and faces possible extradition to the United States, radio stations across Mexico continue to play "The Song for the Queen of the Pacific."

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