Mexican Drug Cartel “Queen” Awaits Extradition to U.S.

February 8, 2011

A reputed Mexican drug cartel “queen” who recently got Botox in prison has been sentenced to time already served on a weapons charge, authorities said Sunday.

Sandra Avila Beltran was sentenced to one year in prison for illegal arms possession.

Avila Beltran has been in custody since 2007 on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic drugs, money laundering and organized crime, but a judge acquitted her of those charges in December. Prosecutors are appealing that ruling.

She remains in prison pending an extradition request from the United States in connection with the 2001 seizure of more than nine tons of U.S.-bound cocaine aboard a fishing vessel in the port of Manzanillo, on Mexico’s west coast.

Prosecutors say Avila Beltran was a top decision-maker in the Sinaloa cartel, earning her the nickname “Queen of the Pacific.”

She has denied the allegations and says she made her money selling clothes and renting houses.

Her story has enthralled Mexicans, particularly the latest news of her Botox procedure at the Santa Martha Acatitla women’s prison.

Mexico City prison officials say a doctor was improperly admitted in January to perform what it called a “procedure not authorized for inmates.” The prison authority said the facility’s warden and medical director were fired.

At the time of her arrest, Avila Beltran’s boyfriend was suspected Colombian trafficker Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez.

Prosecutors said Avila Beltran 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.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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UPDATE: Mexican Government Grants Extradition Request for “La Barbie”

November 22, 2010

Mexican officials said Saturday they have begun the process to extradite alleged drug kingpin Edgar Valdez, known as “La Barbie” for his fair looks, to the United States on drug trafficking charges.

Valdez, a U.S. national born in Laredo, Texas, is charged in a 2002 indictment in Louisiana for alleged cocaine trafficking, and a 1998 indictment for drug trafficking in Texas.

The bilingual Valdez, 37, was arrested on August 30 in a police raid in central Mexico. Known as a ruthless killer, Mexican officials blame him for scores of murders across the country, especially in the southern tourist resort of Acapulco.

As previously reported, Valdez specifically requested extradition to the United States to face the charges. Several motives might exist for this request, such as the fear of being killed in Mexico’s dangerous prisons or perhaps the possibility of providing U.S. authorities with information regarding Mexican drug cartels in exchange for a plea agreement.

A judge ordered Valdez detained pending extradition, the office of Mexico’s attorney general said in a statement.

Valdez was moved to the maximum security prison of El Altiplano, in the central state of Mexico, until the months-long extradition process has been completed.

Valez was a key lieutenant of Arturo Beltran Leyva, who headed the cartel that bears his name and was Mexico’s third most-wanted man until he was killed in a military raid in December 2009.

As a head of Beltran Leyva’s hit squad, “La Barbie” allegedly engaged in a bloody gang war with Arturo’s brother Hector for control of the Beltran Leyva organization.

Since his arrest the Mexican government had not pressed charges, and President Felipe Calderon was forced to deny talk that Valdez negotiated his surrender.

The U.S. State Department had offered up to two million dollars for information leading to his arrest and capture, and Mexican authorities offered 2.2 million dollars.

“La Barbie” is one of six drug lords the government says it has captured or killed this year in Mexico.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Colombian Drug Trafficker Extradited from Mexico to US

June 18, 2010

Pedro Antonio Bermudez, also known as “El Arquitecto,” was arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., following his extradition on June 15, 2010, from Mexico to the United States on charges of participating in an alleged international drug trafficking conspiracy, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

At his arraignment yesterday, Bermudez was ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack in the Eastern District of New York. Bermudez was arrested in Mexico City by Mexican law enforcement officials on Oct. 2, 2008, and was in custody in Mexico since the arrest and prior to his extradition to the United States.

The charges against Bermudez are contained in two separate indictments filed in the Eastern District of New York and the District of Columbia. The indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York charges Bermudez with allegedly working in Mexico as the intermediary for shipments of large quantities of cocaine sent by Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, one of the leaders of the Norte Valle Cartel, to various Mexican cartel leaders. As alleged in the indictment, from 1990 through 2007, Bustamante and his organization sent multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico by speed boats, fishing vessels, and other maritime conveyances and airplanes, for ultimate delivery to the United States. Between 1990 and the present, the Norte del Valle Cartel allegedly exported more than 1.2 million pounds – or 500 metric tons – of cocaine, worth in excess of $10 billion, from Colombia to the United States, the vast majority of which moved through Mexico. Bustamante pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York on June 26, 2008, and is awaiting sentence.

When the cocaine arrived in Mexico, Bermudez was allegedly responsible for insuring its delivery to the Mexican cartels, including the Juarez Cartel, headed by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes. Carrillo is currently a fugitive and is charged in the Eastern District of New York with alleged drug trafficking. The Juarez Cartel, which operates in the Juarez-El Paso corridor, is one of the primary drug smuggling routes along the United States-Mexico border. The DEA estimates that approximately 70% of the cocaine which enters the United States through Mexico is transported across the southwest border. The State Department, under its Narcotics Rewards Program, has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the capture of Carrillo.

The indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charges Bermudez and co-defendant Andres Rodriguez-Fernandez with allegedly conspiring to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine knowing and intending that the cocaine will be imported into the United States between on or about 2001 and Sept. 25, 2008. The indictment also includes two substantive counts, charging the defendants with manufacturing and distributing five kilograms or more of cocaine knowing and intending that the cocaine will be imported into the United States on two separate occasions, March 31 and Sept. 24, 2007. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation.

On May 27, 2009, Bermudez was designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker. The designation freezes Bermudez’s assets in the United States and prohibits him from engaging in any financial transactions with any U.S. company or individual. Earlier this month, the government of Colombia seized 194 assets belonging to Bermudez, valued at approximately $76 million, including apartment buildings, malls, aircraft and ranches.

If convicted, Bermudez faces on both indictments a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life. The US worked with Mexican and Colombian officials to facilitate the investigation, arrest and extradition of Bermudez.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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