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August 20, 2013El Paso, TX, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE deports Sandra Avila Beltran

Avila Beltran, a convicted accessory to drug traffickers, was flown to Mexico City
ICE deports Sandra Avila Beltran

EL PASO, Texas – A Mexican woman convicted of being an accessory after the fact in aiding cocaine traffickers, and known to international media outlets as the "Queen of the Pacific" for her alleged ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel, was deported to Mexico Tuesday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Avila Beltran, 52, a convicted aggravated felon, was among 129 ICE detainees flown from El Paso to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, where she was turned over to Mexican authorities on Aug. 20.

In August 2012, Avila Beltran was paroled into the United States to face U.S. federal charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine in Florida. ICE officers in Miami placed a detainer on Avila Beltran while she was in custody at the Miami Federal Detention Center.

On April 23, Avila Beltran pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the crime of drug trafficking, and on July 25 she was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison, with credit for time served.

Avila Beltran was released from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons July 30 and turned over to ICE custody. At that time, she was processed to be administratively deported to Mexico as an aggravated felon.

"The deportation of this convicted aggravated felon, and thousands of others, is the result of the robust working relationship ICE has with the government of Mexico," said Adrian P. Macias, field office director of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso. "The partnership goes hand-in-hand with ICE’s commitment to smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with major drug offenses."

Avila Beltran was repatriated via an Interior Repatriation Initiative (IRI) flight. The IRI is a joint agreement between the governments of the United States and Mexico to provide the humane, safe and orderly repatriation of Mexican nationals.

The goal of the IRI, which began as a pilot program in 2012 and was signed as a permanent initiative April 18, is to return Mexican nationals to the interior of Mexico. Having this framework will reduce recidivism and border violence by returning Mexican nationals to their cities of origin, where there is a higher likelihood that they will reintegrate themselves back into their communities, rather than fall victim to human trafficking or other crimes in Mexican border towns.

Updated: 09/22/2014