A SEPT. 28, 2007 FILE PHOTO SHOWS SANDRA AVILA BELTRAN, DUBBED THE QUEEN OF THE PACIFIC, AFTER SHE WAS ARRESTED BY FEDERAL AGENTS IN SOUTHERN MEXICO CITY. (MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE VIA MIAMI HERALD/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE VIA GETTY IMAGES)
A top Mexican narco queen who’s fast becoming a celebrity is suing Netflix and Spanish TV outlet Telemundo for allegedly using her image to promote a series based on her life without her approval. Sandra Ávila Beltrán, who was known as “The Queen Of The Pacific,” is looking to obtain 40 percent of all the revenues made by the two companies from “The Queen Of The South” series that has aired weekly for more than 11 years now, according to an exclusive interview with Israel Razo, Ávila’s attorney, by Mexican news outlet Milenio.
“Both companies acted wrongfully with the intention of harming my image and making money out of it,” Ávila allegedly said in a letter submitted to Mexico’s Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI). In April 2019, Telemundo used news footage from her arrest to promote the series’ second season, which is now being shown on Netflix. “La Reina Del Sur” (the name of the series in Spanish) features Mexican top Actress Kate Del Castillo playing Ávila Beltrán, which is based on a novel by Arturo Pérez Reverte. Reverte has said publicly that his novel is based on Ávila Beltrán, although with fictionalized passages. “When they used my image and my name to refer to ‘The Queen Of The South’, they sought to increase the morbid curiosity of the public and to obtain a financial benefit from it,” Ávila stated in the documents obtained by Milenio. The total amount of the claim is still unclear, since Razo said that both companies have been “very sneaky” when it comes to sharing the revenues they’ve made from the show. “But whatever it is, we will be seeking 40 percent of that amount, that won’t be made public for security reasons,” Razo told Milenio.
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. after which she was released back to Mexico, where she served more jail time.She remained in the shadows until very recently, when she was featured in one of Mexico’s most famous podcasts, launched a TikTok and started posting on Instagram. In her latest public appearance, she accused former Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón of working with drug traffickers. “I want to say that Felipe Calderón did a lot of harm to a lot of people, like me,” she said. “I suffered a lot in prison, lost many loved ones. But he was the one collaborating with all the narcos.”