Sandra Ávila Beltrán, dubbed as the ‘Queen of the Pacific’ as a former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, just appeared with a famous Mexican YouTuber to “clean her name of all the lies spread” about her, but also to call Mexico’s former president a narco.
“I’m here to clean my name of all the lies that are being spread about my life and my whereabouts,” Ávila Beltrán said in an exclusive interview with the popular Mexican YouTuber Jonathan Vest, known as “Gusgri”.
Although when she was asked if she used to party with top Mexican narco-bosses, she said it was all true.
“What about that song about you where they say you arrived at a narco-party with an AK-47 on your hands?” Gusgri asked.
“That was also true. I like guns and I have known a lot of those people since I was a kid,” Ávila Beltrán said.
Ávila Beltrán, 61, blamed former President Felipe Calderón, who started the “war against drug cartels” in 2006, for allegedly setting her up for his own political benefit.
“The Mexican government arrested a woman with a lot of drug money, and somehow they accused me as being the owner of that money. But that was never true,” she said.
“I want to say that Felipe Calderón did a lot of harm to a lot of people, like me; I suffered a lot in prison, lost many loved ones. But he was the one collaborating with all the narcos,” she said.
This is not the first time that a drug trafficker has accused former President Calderón of being in bed with Mexican drug cartels.
In 2012 convicted drug lord Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a United States citizen nicknamed "La Barbie" because of his fair skin, published a letter in Reforma, one of Mexico’s most-read newspapers, where he claimed that Calderón had personally met with drug traffickers.
“My arrest was the result of political persecution by Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, who initiated harassment against me because I refused to be part of the agreement that Mr. Calderón Hinojosa wanted to have with all the organized crime groups,” he wrote.
Calderón has denied having ties to “any criminal organization, whatever their name is” and said drug traffickers are “mad” at him for going against them.
Ávila Beltrán was allegedly the connection between the Sinaloa Cartel and Colombia cocaine producers. She was arrested in September 2007 by Mexican authorities on charges of drug trafficking, illegal arms possession, and money laundering. In 2012 she was extradited to face charges in the U.S. and released back to Mexico a year later.
The “Queen of the Pacific” has since been in the shadows until very recently, when she launched a TikTok and started posting on Instagram. Now, she’s on a podcast.
Ávila Beltrán is part of Mexican old-school, drug-trafficking royalty and allegedly the inspiration behind the character Isabella Bautista in Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico. She is believed to be the niece of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the godfather of the first Mexican drug-trafficking syndicate, the Guadalajara Cartel. It has also been reported that she’s related to Rafael Caro Quintero, another founding member of the Guadalajara drug cartel, who was recently arrested, again, in Mexico.
Now, after spending a lifetime in the shadows, she’s turning to social media to trade on her mythical status in Mexican culture.
Videos on her TikTok account show her paying visits to the bank and posing for the camera in bars and nightclubs with friends in what appears to be a deeply pedestrian post-trafficking existence.
Her fans don’t seem to care. Despite her TikTok account being just a month old, the former queenpin has nearly 127,000 followers, with tens of thousands of likes on each of her videos.
It’s not clear why Ávila Beltrán has decided to go public on TikTok in recent weeks—she declined a few interview requests from VICE World News for this article.
Deborah Bonello contributed to this report.