HomeNewsAnalysis‘Queen of the Pacific’ Becomes Botox Queen
ANALYSIS

‘Queen of the Pacific’ Becomes Botox Queen

EL MAYO / 2 FEB 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Authorities have fired a prison director for allowing an alleged female Mexican drug trafficker, known as ‘The Queen of the Pacific,’ to undergo plastic surgery while in jail. This is only the latest incident of Mexican capos receiving luxury benefits in prison.

The director of the Santa Martha Acatitla woman’s prison apparently allowed Avila Beltran, who was reportedly once a key link between the Sinaloa Cartel and Colombia’s Norte del Valle Cartel, to receive botox injections, reports Cronica. Initial media reports said Avila Beltran had also undergone liposuction and a nose job.

Avila Beltran was arrested in 2007, charged with trafficking drugs, laundering money and, unofficially, serving as the head of “public relations” for the Sinaloa Cartel. A Mexican federal court cleared her of drug trafficking charges in December but she is still facing an extradition order in the U.S. Since her arrest, she has frequently been singled out as a symbol of female prominence in a field dominated by men.

Much of Avila Beltran’s ascent was related to family ties and romantic connections. She is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias ‘The Godfather,’ one of the first Sinaloan traffickers to rise to fame. Both of her husbands were corrupt police commanders killed in drug-related hits. She has been romantically tied to Ismael Zambada García, alias ‘El Mayo,’ and Colombian trafficker Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, who also served as a pointman between the Colombian cartels and the Sinaloans.

Women do in fact make up an important part of the drug trafficking chain. According to the National Women’s Institute, known by its Spanish acronym Inmujeres, the number of females imprisoned for links to the drug trade rose 400 percent between 2007 and 2010. The Institute says that many of those working-class, single mothers worked as drug mules, often helping a man in their lives: a son, partner or husband.

Women play another important role in the drug trade, in that they are frequently targeted in revenge hits, including executions, rape, beheadings and hangings. The number of women killed in drug-related hits has also risen 600 percent, with over 650 executions registered last year, according to La Jornada, which cites statistics from the National Security Cabinet. This is still a small fraction of the 15,273 narco killings reported in 2010. But it is an indication that women across Mexico are increasingly transporting drugs, selling drugs and being killed for drugs, in low-profile ways that do not appear as “glamorous” as Beltran Avila’s lifestyle but is worth more attention and concern.

As the botox incident demonstrates, much of the attention fixated on Avila Beltran has to do with her “charm” and “beauty” and “spiked heels and skintight jeans.” By laundering millions of drug dollars in real estate and businesses and allegedly developing key political contacts in Mexico, she did in fact occupy a position of influence within the Sinaloa Cartel. In that sense, part of her mystique was her ability to raise questions about gender roles and female empowerment in the criminal world. 

But while Avila Beltran appeared to occupy a position of agency in a business where women are dominated and victimized by men, she was also singled out by the Mexican and international media essentially because of her social class, her elite family history, and her lovers. Meanwhile, working-class women without Avila’s high-level connections remain a key part of the drug trade, performing (and subverting) traditional gender roles every day. 

Other supposed “godmothers” in the history of drug trafficking have included Enedina Arellano Felix of the Tijuana Cartel and Colombian trafficker Griselda Blanco, who, as described by Ron Chepesiuk in “Drug Lords: the Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel,” in the 1970’s “became one of the first Colombian gangsters to see the potential of the drug trade, and she began to build a cocaine pipeline between Colombia and the cities of Miami and New York.”

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

JUAREZ CARTEL / 31 MAR 2013

Mexico’s battles with drug trafficking have been a constant in the country’s modern history, but the activities and…

MEXICO / 26 APR 2013

A Mexican newspaper has denied officials' claims that one of its photographers, killed this week, was targeted because of his…

MEXICO / 10 SEP 2014

Mexico's army announced that it had located the country's first known coca plantation, suggesting that Mexican traffickers could be seeking…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…