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Mexico hands over drug-smuggling 'queen' Sandra Avila to US


Federal police officers escort Sandra Avila after her arrival at the airport in Toluca, in this photograph released by the Attorney General's office on Aug. 9, 2012.

Mexico have handed "Queen of the Pacific" Sandra Avila, Mexico's highest-profile female drug smuggler," over to United States authorities to face trafficking charges north of the border.

Avila, arrested in Mexico in 2007, allegedly helped build up the Sinaloa cartel in the 1990s with the gang's leader Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman. She won her nickname for pioneering smuggling routes up Mexico's Pacific Coast into California.

The Mexican federal attorney-general's office said she would face cocaine possession and distribution charges in Florida.

Avila, who was given into the custody of U.S. officials in Toluca, was nabbed on organized crime and money-laundering charges in Mexico and had fought extradition by claiming she would be tried for the same crimes twice.

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Previously, prosecutors in Mexico had tried unsuccessfully to bring drug smuggling charges against her, the BBC reported.

Avila is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as the godfather of the Mexican drug trade.

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According to the BBC, the director of the prison where she was being held was fired in 2011 because a doctor had been allowed in Avila's cell to give her Botox injections.

The country's drug war has claimed more than 55,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon sent the army out to battle drug gangs in late 2006.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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