Fri, Feb 04, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Two Mexican prison officials lose jobs over beauty’s care

HIGH MAINTENANCE:Botox treatments behind bars for a famous prisoner cost the officials their posts. A liposuction operation was to be next

The Guardian, MEXICO CITY

The high heels and dark glasses worn by prisoner Sandra Avila Beltran were already against regulations, but it was the Botox injections given to her in her cell that finally cost two prison officials their jobs.

The head of Mexico City’s main women’s jail and its medical chief have been sacked amid revelations that they allowed a plastic surgeon to enter the prison and administer beauty treatments to the alleged cocaine trafficker.

Sources within the prison authority said the treatments consisted of several Botox injections to the face, administered over several hours, and that a liposuction operation was planned to take place at the jail in the near future.

Avila Beltran, 50, has long been alleged to enjoy special privileges allowing her to wear non-regulation clothing to keep up appearances behind bars.

The woman nicknamed Queen of the Pacific was arrested in Mexico City in September 2007 and charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs and money-laundering. Authorities said she was a key link between the Sinaloa cartel and the Colombian suppliers of cocaine. She insisted she made her living by renting houses and selling clothes.

The life of the highest profile alleged female trafficker has enthralled Mexicans. Veteran investigative journalist Julio Scherer wrote a book about Avila Beltran based on prison interviews in which she told how she grew up surrounded by narcotics and had love affairs with several drug kingpins.

“People can think what they like about me,” she told him. “But I cannot be convicted for my personal relations with narcos or whoever else.”

Avila Beltran was acquitted by a Mexican court in December, but prosecutors are appealing against that decision.

The US is also seeking her extradition to face charges associated with the seizure of 9 tonnes of US-bound cocaine found on a fishing boat in a western Mexican port in 2001. Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, her Colombian boyfriend at the time of her arrest, has already been extradited in connection to that drugs haul.

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