Arrest photo of Sandra Avila from Mexican Attorney General’s office
“The Queen of the Pacific: It’s time to Talk” is the name of a book about suspected Mexican drug trafficker Sandra Avila Beltran. The title seems to suggest a confessional narrative. Instead, Avila claims to be a victim of a vengeful government that is no less corrupt than drug traffickers.
Avila’s reputation, of course, is far more intriguing. She is said to have seduced drug traffickers and police officials, to have been involved in cocaine shipments to Mexico, and to have coordinated an extensive money laundering operation for the Sinaloa cartel.
The (Spanish-language) book, which is narrated by Mexico’s prize-winning journalist Julio Scherer Garcia, allows Avila to tell her side of the story – perhaps a bit too liberally. Avila doesn’t deny that she comes from a world of drug trafficking but she asserts that associating with traffickers doesn’t make her one. Her explanation for having so many real estate properties seems somewhat simplistic: “I was good at property transactions and I dedicated a part of my time to this.”
Nonetheless, Avila (not to be confused with the Sinaloan beauty queen arrested last month) provides some interesting glimpses into the world she comes from. She talks about women in the narco world – “competitive and exhibitionists” – and shares her knowledge of some of the slang expressions used by drug traffickers – “hacer una vuelta” signifies a firmed-up business deal. She takes swipes at former Mexico first lady Marta Sahagun, says a few words about former Tijuana mayor Jorge Hank Rhon, and speaks about her love of jewels (A list of the jewelry that was confiscated from her takes up ten pages).
I couldn’t help wonder about a sister that Avila mentions who seems to have separated herself from the family. Avila’s choice to accept and embrace the drug world no doubt contributed to her ending up in prison, where she awaits a decision on her case. The tragedy for both sisters is that their separate paths both lead to pain and consequences.
Complicity is the lock and chain of the drug world, and that’s why I find this particular commentary from Avila both ominous and true: “I have ties with the drug society, but that is not my complete world. I am part of the society in its totality.”