Crime Trackers

Dec 3, 2012 8:23 PM by Lupita Murillo

Tucson attorney representing suspected player in drug trade

TUCSON- A Tucson attorney is representing a woman believed to be a key player in the drug world in Colombia and Mexico. Steve Ralls has been in business three decades and has had numerous high profile clients. Now he can add, Sandra Avila Beltran known as, "La Reina del Pacifico" or the Queen of the Pacific.

There's a book, and even a narco corrido, or drug ballad about her.

Retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Anthony Coulson says, "She was a main connection for the Sinaloan Cartel in terms of establishing and solidifying relationships with the Colombian cocaine suppliers."

She was arrested in Mexico five years ago, and charged with smuggling 10 tons of cocaine. A Mexican judge dropped those charges saying there was insufficient evidence against her.

Then last August she was extradited to the United States, on charges of conspiracy to distribute 220 pounds of cocaine.

She is currently sitting in prison in Miami, Florida. Her attorney says, "We've had relatively good degree of successes representing individuals, beyond that I can't really say why she came to us but she did."

Ralls a former law enforcement officer, including being a DEA agent says he doesn't buy into the hype of "La Reina's" reputation. "Most of what has been generated concerning what the agents are saying is really a repetition of a lot of the gossip that exists," he says.

He says the media has also perpetuated the legend of "La Reina del Pacifico" and her alleged drug connections. "She may know individuals that are involved in drug trafficking its probably very true, that she has participated in that is a whole different story."

Both of Beltran's husbands were former police commanders who became drug traffickers and were assassinated.

Her uncle is in prison for the murder of a DEA agent. Her teenage son was kidnapped and held for a $12-million ransom. It's reported she paid it.

Former DEA agent Coulson says, "Sandra Beltran is a very ruthless person who my information is that never hesitated to give the order to have someone killed."

Her attorney says, "I dispute that she is ruthless and dispute everything else. She is a very decent person."

A jury will make their decision in March on the future of La Reina del Pacifico.

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