Mexican cartel queen pleads guilty to drug-trafficking


Magic tunnel: Put drugs in one end in Tijuana, Mexico, and zoom through the tunnel! The package arrives in San Diego, California. Mexican authorities found this tunnel in November 2011. Dozens of others have popped up over the years.


Francisco Vega

It was a love story for the ages: Sandra Avila Beltran once dated a Colombian cartel boss and helped him evade drug charges. Okay, more like a crime story for the ages. But now it's coming to an end. Beltran,  a Mexican woman in the male-dominated world of drug-trafficking who is commonly called the "Queen of the Pacific,”  has pleaded guilty to a drug-trafficking charge in Miami.

Avila, 52, admitted Tuesday in federal court that she helped her former boyfriend evade prosecution for cocaine importation. “Both sides felt the charge of accessory after the fact would be reflective of a fair and just result,” Avila’s attorney, Howard Schumacher, told The Miami Herald.

More from GlobalPost: How the Sinaloa cartel won Mexico’s drug war

She faces up to 15 years in prison, but is expected to get a much lighter sentence, BBC News reported.

A statement signed by Avila, viewed by the Associated Press, says she provided money to the ex-boyfriend,  Juan Diego Espinosa Ramirez, so he could buy travel and lodging to avoid police. But that didn't work out: he was eventually arrested, and he pleaded guilty in 2009 to cocaine trafficking charges.

"Between approximately 2002 and 2004, Avila-Beltran provided financial assistance for travel, lodging and other expenses to [Espinosa] with the intention of preventing or hindering his arrest for drug-trafficking crimes," the US attorney's office said in a statement.