02/07/2015 05:05 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2015

Mexican Cartel 'Queen Of The Pacific' To Be Released From Prison


(Updates with official confirmation, details)

MEXICO CITY, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A jailed Mexican drug smuggler known as the "Queen of the Pacific" is to be released after partially completing a five-year sentence on money-laundering charges, the attorney general's office said on Saturday.

A federal judge in Mexico's western Jalisco state accepted the appeal of Sandra Avila Beltran and ordered her immediate release, saying her five-year sentence was based on the same crime that triggered previous stints behind bars.

Avila Beltran, the highest-profile woman linked to Mexico's drug trade, was expected to be set free later on Saturday, a federal security official said on condition of anonymity.

Avila Beltran was sentenced to a nearly six-year prison term in the United States before being extradited to Mexico in 2013 to face money-laundering charges.

Her incarceration in both Mexico and the United States stemmed from charges that she provided money to former Colombian drug lord Juan Diego Espinosa to help him avoid arrest.

In 2014, she was sentenced to the five-year prison term in Mexico.

The attorney general's office said in a statement on Saturday that it was not permitted by law to appeal the judge's order.

Avila Beltran was first detained in Mexico in 2007. She allegedly helped build the Sinaloa cartel in the 1990s with Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most-wanted drug boss until he was captured early last year.

Avila Beltran, niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as the godfather of the Mexican drug trade, was extradited to the United States in August 2012.

She is known as "Queen of the Pacific" because of her success developing smuggling routes along Mexico's Pacific Coast into California. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by Dan Grebler; Editing by David Gregorio)



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