This Is The Real-Life Narco Queen Who Inspired “La Reina Del Sur”
Amidst the stories of El Chapo, La Barbie and other notorious drug cartel leaders, seldom do we hear of the women who also held the reins of North America’s illicit drug industry.
But they exist, and Sandra Ávila Beltrán, a.k.a. The Queen of the Pacific, is one of these jefas.
To fans of the Telemundo telenovela “La Reina del Sur,” Ávila’s story will sound oh so familiar.
That’s because the show’s main character, Teresa Mendoza is based on Beltrán. Mendoza is a simple young woman from Sinaloa whose world gets turned upside down when she meets El Güero, a drug trafficker who gets her involved in the industry. It’s Telemundo’s most popular novela, followed by “El Señor de los Cielos” and “Pablo Escobar.”
Kate del Castillo’s rendition of Ávila was so popular that USA Network released its own English-language version, “Queen of the South,” which debuted this June.
It features Brazilian actress Alice Braga in the role of Teresa Mendoza.
BTW, there are also some intense similarities between Ávila and Weeds’s cannabis-dealing mom, Nancy Botwin.
Like Botwin, Mendoza is cunning, sly and clever. They both use their sexuality to advance their career, and eventually both wind up in prison.
Ávila has lived a charmed yet highly dangerous life.
Growing up in a wealthy family with ties to the Guadalajara cartel, Ávila witnessed her first murder when she was 13. However, the road to her career as La Reina first began when she was kidnapped by a jealous boyfriend, who was associated with a drug cartel. Instead of pursuing a career as an investigative reporter, Ávila eventually entered the drug trade. By the age of 21, she was already holding meetings with Amado Carrillo Fuentes (a.k.a. El Señor de los Cielos). Soon, she was orchestrating the cocaine trade between Mexico and the U.S.
Ávila, who says she never did cocaine herself, was known to carry around suitcases filled with millions of dollars.
Ávila says she never consumed cocaine because drug traffickers looked at women who did cocaine as “weak.” As one of the rare women in the drug trade, Ávila says she fought hard to earn respect. Although she wanted respect, she also wanted money. She spoiled her teenage son with an allowance of $40,000 every few months. She wore a necklace with the emblem of Tutankhamun, adorned with 83 rubies, 228 diamonds and 189 sapphires.
However, her sensational life took a turn for the worse when Los Tucanes de Tijuana released their hit “Fiesta en la Sierra.”
The popular narcocorrido outed Ávila. In 2007, she was quickly arrested in a restaurant in Mexico City and thrown in prison. All 225 of her Jalisco-based properties were seized by authorities.
Being in prison didn’t stop La Reina from living her life, though.
While incarcerated, Ávila figured out a way to get a doctor to give her Botox injections.
In 2012, La Reina was extradited to the U.S. and tried for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine across the border. But now, she’s free.
She pleaded guilty in the U.S., but the case was dropped, and Ávila returned to prison in Mexico. There, she successfully fought a second five-year sentence, and in 2015, was released.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, she announced that she feels no remorse over the 100,000 deaths during Mexico’s drug wars.