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Angie Valencia, Beauty Queen Busted: Colombian Model Suspected Head of Cocaine Smuggling Ring

Angie Sanclemente Valencia, accused cocaine smuggler (AP)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CBS/AP) A Colombian model accused of leading a drug-trafficking gang was arrested Wednesday after evading Argentine police for five months.

Angie Sanclemente Valencia is suspected of recruiting pretty young women to smuggle cocaine into Mexico. She's been in hiding since one of her alleged recruits was arrested with drugs at a Mexican Airport.

Airport police caught a 21-year-old Argentine woman with 55 kilograms (121 pounds) of cocaine in her baggage boarding a flight to Cancun. That led to arrests of six other alleged gang members who allegedly fingered Colombia's former "coffee queen" as a ringleader.

Argentina's media quickly dubbed Sanclemente the "Narco Queen," but two officials involved in the case told The Associated Press that her specific role in the smuggling organization has not been established. "When they organized the trafficking of cocaine to Mexico, she participated in the meetings," said one of the sources.

Police were able to determine Sanclemente's identity because she had made quite an impression upon her arrival in Argentina, flying first class with a Pomeranian dog, the other official said. The 30-year-old model was captured Wednesday in a hostel for foreigners in the fashionable Palermo neighborhood, airport police spokesman Maximiliano Lencina said.

Police figured she was still in Argentina: She declared her innocence on Facebook, where she posted pictures of Buenos Aires dated after Interpol issued a warrant for her arrest, and her mother arrived in the country weeks ago to help with her defense. "She is no drug trafficker, nor is she the queen of cocaine," her mother, Jeannette Valencia, declared after the arrest.

Judicial authorities already rejected a request for special treatment from her lawyer, Guillermo Tiscornia, who said Sanclemente had not turned herself in for fear that her looks would expose her to rape or other mistreatment in a common prison.

Sanclemente, a native of Barranquilla, Colombia, won her country's National Coffee Queen beauty pageant in 2000. Then 21, she was forced to give up her crown when it was discovered she was married at the time in violation of pageant rules.

  • Crimesider Staff

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