Suspected Mexican drug ‘queen’ extradited to U.S.

August 10, 2012
Sandra Avila Beltran
“Sandra Avila Beltran, also known as the “Queen of the Pacific.””

CNN on August 10, 2012 released the following:

“By the CNN Wire Staff

Mexico City (CNN) — One of the most high-profile women accused of connections with Mexico’s drug trade was extradited to the United States Thursday, officials said.

Mexican police handed over Sandra Avila Beltran, known as “The Queen of the Pacific,” to U.S. marshals at an airport in central Mexico Thursday morning, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

She will face cocaine trafficking charges in a federal court in Florida, prosecutors said.

Avila was once a key drug trafficking link between Colombia and Mexico, prosecutors have said. She was arrested in Mexico City on September 28, 2007, smiling before cameras as authorities trumpeted her detention.

Since then, her life has been the subject of a best-selling book and a popular ballad.

“The more beautiful the rose, the sharper the thorns,” says one line in “The Queen of Queens,” Los Tigres del Norte’s song describing Avila.

Her eye-catching nickname has regularly made headlines as Mexico’s case against her made its way through the nation’s courts.

A judge convicted her on money laundering charges, but ruled that Mexican prosecutors didn’t provide enough evidence to convict her of drug trafficking.

In 2011, authorities in Mexico City said they were investigating a tip that prison medical personnel had allowed a doctor to give Avila a Botox injection.

Avila denied that accusation, Mexico’s state-run Notimex news agency reported.

For more than two years, Avila has tried to block a U.S. extradition request. A Mexican judge ruled that she could be extradited in June.

A 2008 U.S. Congressional Research Service report described Avila as “a senior member of the Sinaloa cartel who was instrumental” in building ties with Colombian traffickers.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Avila was suspected of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States along with Juan Diego Espinosa, a Colombian national who was also known as “The Tiger.”

The DEA said that in November 2001, Espinosa, Avila and others “allegedly arranged the shipment of cocaine from Colombia to the United States by ship.” The ship, loaded with 9,291 kilograms of cocaine, was boarded by U.S. agents near Manzanillo, on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

U.S. authorities extradited Espinosa from Mexico in 2008. A judge sentenced him to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a cocaine distribution conspiracy charge in 2009. A court document signed as part of the plea agreement said that he and Avila had taken part in a deal to distribute 100 kilograms of cocaine in Chicago.

In the United States, Avila faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if she is convicted of charges of conspiracy to import and sell cocaine, according to a 2004 indictment filed in U.S. district court.

In a 2009 interview with Anderson Cooper that aired on “60 Minutes” and CNN, Avila denied the charges against her, and blamed Mexico’s government for allowing drug trafficking to flourish.

“In Mexico there’s a lot of corruption, A lot. Large shipments of drugs can come into the Mexican ports or airports without the authorities knowing about it. It’s obvious and logical. The government has to be involved in everything that is corrupt,” she said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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

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Police nab suspected top Guatemala drug trafficker

April 3, 2012

USNews.com on April 3, 2012 released the following:

“By ROMINA RUIZ-GOIRIENA, Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A leading drug trafficker who helped Mexico’s brutal Zetas drug cartel expand into Guatemala was arrested Tuesday and is facing extradition to the United States, authorities said.

Horst Walther Overdick, 44, was captured during an operation to arrest Zetas operatives east of Guatemala’s capital, Interior Secretary Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told reporters.

The process of extraditing Overdick will begin after he enters a plea to the trafficking charges against him in the U.S. and Guatemala, attorney-general Claudia Paz y Paz said.

Lopez Bonilla said Overdick, known as “The Tiger,” had worked for years to establish a cocaine-trafficking link between South America and Mexico, and was the primary ally of the Zetas in Peten, Izabal and Verapaces provinces.

Overdick began as a trader in cardomom, a spice used in cooking, then used his knowledge of import and export routes to help the Zetas move cocaine to the United States.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala issued a statement of congratulations for the arrest.

Overdick was the first Guatemalan trafficker to ally himself with the Zetas, a gang founded by Mexican army special forces members that has spread throughout Mexico and become one of its two most powerful cartels, Guatemalan judge Miguel Angel Galvez told The Associated Press.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Guatemala here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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


How Colombia is busting drug cartels

January 18, 2012

CNN on January 18, 2012 released the following:

“By William C. Rempel, Special to CNN

(CNN) — Gruesome and seemingly endless accounts of violence in Mexico have obscured one notable bright spot in Latin America’s high-stakes struggle with powerful drug gangs. In Colombia, once home to the world’s biggest cocaine cartels, new crime organizations are being picked apart with silent efficiency — aided by Bogota’s enthusiastic embrace of extradition.

In recent years, more than 1,300 of Colombia’s top crime bosses and their most dangerous enforcers have been sent north to face trafficking charges in the United States, a dramatic turnabout from the 1990s when extradition was outlawed under coercive pressure from the Medellin and Cali cartels.

Traffickers who might have continued to operate their drug organizations from luxury prison cells near their Colombian homes find themselves serving extended terms far away in U.S. penitentiaries without wall-to-wall carpets, big-screen TVs or easy phone access. Many offer to become witnesses hoping to reduce their sentences.

The result has been a steady erosion of organized crime’s capabilities in Colombia — a lesson for Mexico and other countries in the region threatened by drug gangs. Mexico’s historic reluctance to extradite its citizens to the United States should be reassessed in the face of Colombia’s success.

The beauty of extradition as practiced by Colombia is not its power to stop drug smuggling. There is scant evidence it has had much direct effect in that regard. But it continues to splinter the leadership of trafficking gangs, keeping them in a perpetual state of rebuilding. In short, extradition disorganizes organized crime.

And that’s what makes it such a winning strategy in a country once thoroughly compromised by cartel threats and bribes. In those days, barely 20 years ago, the Medellin and Cali cartels vied for power with the Bogota government that too often seemed to be a hostage to criminal forces. Extradition became the prize they fought over.

Pablo Escobar, once the most feared thug in the drug world, was so afraid of being carted off for trial in Florida or Texas or New York that he demanded an end to extradition. He famously insisted that he preferred “the grave in Colombia” to a prison cell in the States. But when his demands were unheeded, Escobar launched a terror campaign of political assassination, socialite kidnappings, and deadly bombings.

While Escobar went to war, rival Cali cartel bosses went to the bank. They spread favors of cash, women and Caribbean vacations to any and all receptive politicians. Democracy was no match for the combined forces of corruption and intimidation. Colombia capitulated to the drug kings and let cartel lawyers rewrite portions of the national constitution to outlaw extradition.

It was banned for more than six years until restored in December 1997. More recently, its use soared as part of former President Alvaro Uribe’s campaign to disarm and demobilize narco-trafficking paramilitary groups. And he put extradition processing on a fast track after discovering that imprisoned gangsters were still running criminal enterprises from their Colombian jails.

Colombia remains highly motivated today by fear of a return to the bad old days when criminal demands trumped national interests. And its success has been noticed. Mexico is showing more willingness to extradite Mexican nationals accused of major trafficking offenses in the U.S., but its numbers are small compared with Colombia’s.

About a dozen Mexican drug bosses are in various stages of extradition, a cumbersome and often frustrating process that can take two to five years. U.S. authorities complain that, among other things, Mexico requires excessive documentation before approving extradition applications — notably the identities of certain key witnesses that can jeopardize their safety.

Some of the lingering reluctance comes from national pride, from the conviction that Mexico should and can take care of its own crime problems. To that end, Mexican anti-narcotics units have been beefed up and security at its federal prisons improved. But that’s not enough.

“There’s no prison anywhere in Mexico or Colombia that puts these guys out of business like U.S. prisons,” says one American law enforcement official.

There is a cost, of course. Federal prosecutions and extended incarcerations are expensive. Yet, what are the alternatives? When Colombia was overrun by cartels, the U.S. poured in a billion dollars of aid to help a friend and ally fight back. Recently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested sending U.S. troops to help Mexico, an option loaded with political as well as financial costs. It only underscores the point: Extradition is a bargain.

It’s also the most potent weapon against organized crime available in the region. Mexico and its Central American neighbors should embrace it with Colombian enthusiasm.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Colombia here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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.