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Mexican Drug Queen Acquitted on Trafficking Charges

Sandra Avila Beltran CBS

MEXICO CITY -- The glamorous Sandra Avila Beltran, alias "the Queen of the Pacific," allegedly Mexico's most famous woman drug trafficker, was acquitted of drug trafficking charges today by a federal judge in Mexico City due to a lack of evidence.

Sandra Avila Beltran was reputed to play a key public relations role for the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted drug trafficker. Avila Beltran is said to have worked on various shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico. She was arrested outside a restaurant in the San Jeronimo neighborhood of Mexico City in September 2007.

Avila Beltran, used to Chanel makeup and the best things money can buy - has been languishing in the Santa Marta Acatitla women's prison in Mexico City.

Watch 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper Interview Sandra Avila

The Colombian capo, Juan Diego Espinoza, alias "The Tiger," an alleged collaborator of Avila Beltran's who is reputed to have been her lover, was also absolved of any drug smuggling charges. They were both charged with trafficking up to 10 tons of cocaine, seized by Mexican authorities aboard a ship off the coast of Manzanillo in 2001.

The ruling is still open for appeal by Mexico's Attorney General's Office, the institution which accused Avila Beltran and Juan Diego Espinoza of drug trafficking charges back in September 2007.

But Avila Beltran won't get out of prison just yet - the United States government has an order for her extradition on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Meanwhile, "The Tiger," Sandra Avila's old flame is in Florida serving six years as a protected witness, on charges linked to the cocaine shipment.

Avila Beltran is the very stuff of narco legend - she grew up among drug traffickers in the state of Sinaloa and "the godfather" of Mexican drug trafficking, none other than Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, is her uncle. The Queen of the Pacific is reputed to have attended lavish parties at the hideouts of famous Mexican drug lords. She has inspired narco ballads, like "Reina de Reinas" by the Tigres del Norte, which says, "the more beautiful the rose, more dangerous the thorn."

At the time of her arrest, the video of her testimony seemed made for a telenovela. She told authorities she was a housewife who made money from selling clothes and real estate.

Read Mexico's "Queen Of The Pacific"

In 2009, 60 Minutes interviewed Julio Scherer, journalist and author of "Queen of the Pacific: It's time to talk," in the 60 Minutes interview Scherer said that Sandra Avila "opens many avenues of investigation" into the world of drug trafficking.

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