Colombian Narco Queen arrested

2010-05-28 06:58

A Colombian model accused of leading a drug-trafficking gang that

persuaded young women to smuggle cocaine into Mexico was finally arrested after

evading Argentine police for five months.

Angie Sanclemente Valencia had been hiding out in Buenos Aires

since December, when airport police caught a 21-year-old Argentine woman with

55kg of cocaine in her baggage boarding a flight to Cancun. That led to the

arrests of six other alleged gang members, who allegedly fingered Colombia’s

former “coffee queen” as a ringleader.

Sanclemente, a native of Barranquilla, Colombia, won her country’s

National Coffee Queen beauty pageant in 2000. Then 21, she was forced to give up

her crown when it was discovered that she was married – a violation of pageant

rules.

Argentina’s media have now dubbed Sanclemente the Narco Queen, but

two officials involved in the case told AP that her specific role in the

smuggling organisation had not been established.

“When they organised the trafficking of cocaine to Mexico, she

participated in the meetings,” said one of the sources, both of whom agreed to

discuss the case on condition that they not be identified because the

investigation was still open.

Police were able to determine Sanclemente’s identity because she

had made quite an impression upon her arrival in Argentina, flying first class

with a Pomeranian dog, the other official said.

The 30-year-old model was captured yesterday in a hostel for

foreigners in the fashionable Palermo neighbourhood, said airport police

spokesperson Maximiliano Lencina.

Lencina declined to discuss the evidence, but said Sanclemente “was

an important figure in the organisation” that allegedly recruited pretty young

Argentine women to smuggle cocaine.

Plot against her

Sanclemente’s mother arrived in the country weeks ago to help with

her daughter’s defence.

“She is no drug trafficker, nor is she the queen of cocaine,” her

mother, Jeannette Valencia, declared after the arrest.

“There are bad intentions – a plot against her. She will prove her

innocence,” Valencia told reporters after police prevented her from entering her

daughter’s room.

Judicial authorities already rejected a request for special

treatment from her lawyer, Guillermo Tiscornia, who said Sanclemente had not

turned herself in for fear that her looks would expose her to rape or other

mistreatment in a common prison.

Sanclemente had “fear that they will rape her, that they will cut

her face” in prison, her mother added.

“I feel great anguish and desperation. I can’t rest, I’m very sad

that the Argentines have treated me so badly. I don’t deserve this,” Valencia

told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.



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