Reputed drug trafficker Sandra Avila Beltran, known as “The Queen of the Pacific,” was transferred from a Mexico City jail to a federal prison, just days after officials said she did not receive a Botox injection while behind bars.
Avila Beltran, who had been held at the Santa Martha Acatitla women’s prison on the outskirts of Mexico City since September 2008, was moved to an unidentified federal prison on Monday.
Avila Beltran was given a one-year prison sentence on a weapons charge last month, but she will not have to serve any additional time because she has been jailed for more than three years, prosecutors said.
She will not be released because of a pending extradition request from U.S. authorities, the Attorney General’s Office said.
A judge ordered Avila Beltran and her former boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinosa, released on Dec. 3, citing lack of evidence that they were involved in organized crime and drug trafficking.
Federal prosecutors appealed the judge’s decision on Jan. 4 and a ruling is not expected for several months.
Seven inmates facing federal charges were moved from Santa Martha Acatitla “to federal correctional centers by police,” the Mexico City bureau of prisons said.
One of the inmates transferred to federal facilities was Sandra Avila Beltran, Mexico City officials said.
The transfer was carried out under agreements between Mexico City and federal authorities that call for inmates “subject to different proceedings and extradition trials” to be sent to federal prisons while their cases move through the justice system, the Mexico City bureau of prisons said.
Avila Beltran and Espinosa, a suspected Colombian drug trafficker known as “El Tigre,” were arrested on Sept. 28, 2007, for allegedly smuggling nine tons of cocaine into the Pacific port of Manzanillo aboard the ship Macel.
She allegedly served as an intermediary between Colombian drug traffickers and Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.
The suspected drug trafficker was considered one of the few powerful women in an illegal industry dominated by men.
After her arrest, the Mexican press compared Avila Beltran to the main character in Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South) and she inspired a popular “corrido,” or ballad, by Los Tigres del Norte.
The U.S. State Department considers Avila Beltran a “veteran member” of the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, who was “instrumental” in maintaining the gang’s relations with Colombian suppliers.