Mexico judge orders release of alleged cartel 'queen'

A Mexican federal judge has thrown out a five-year, money-laundering sentence against Sandra Avila Beltran, ordering the immediate release of the so-called "Queen of the Pacific" for her alleged role as a liaison between Mexican and Colombian drug cartels.

A statement issued Saturday by the Attorney General's Office says the judge ruled Avila had already been tried for the same crime in Mexico and the United States.

Avila was arrested for money laundering in 2007 then later acquitted. She was extradited to the U.S., where she pleaded guilty in 2013 to being an accessory after the fact in an organization that included Juan Diego Espinosa Ramirez, her Colombian boyfriend at the time. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to cocaine charges.

She was sentenced to time served and returned to Mexico.