Mexican beauty queen jailed

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - A Mexican beauty queen was sentenced to 40 days jail on Friday after she was arrested with an alleged Ciudad Juarez drug cartel leader and a group of heavily armed men. Laura Zuniga, 23, was picked up late Monday at a military checkpoint in the western state of Jalisco while traveling with seven armed men in two vehicles carrying 100,000 dollars in cash, government sources said. A judge on Friday ordered "the cautionary measure" of 40 days detention for Zuniga and the men "for probably committing crimes" relating to drug trafficking and transporting weapons, the office of Mexico's attorney general said. Zuniga was picked up along with Angel Orlando Garcia Urquizar, "presumed to be one of the leaders of the Juarez Cartel," the statement read. Police earlier identified Zuniga as Garcia Urquizar's girlfriend. Zuniga was crowned "Miss Sinaloa" in July, and also won the Queen of Hispanic America contest in November in Bolivia. At the time of the arrests, authorities said they found two AR-15 rifles, three pistols, 633 cartridges and 16 mobile phones along with the cash in the vehicles. Garcia Urquizar's brother Ricardo, known as "The Doctor," was also a top Juarez drug cartel operative until his arrest in 2005. The Juarez cartel is believed to be responsible for smuggling up to 20 percent of all the cocaine consumed in the United States, for annual profits of 660 million dollars. The group was "just coming to town. They came from different places and the young woman said that the money was for making purchases in Bolivia and Colombia," said Jalisco public security director Alejandro Solorio at the time of the arrest. Zuniga is originally from Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, birthplace of one of Mexico's most powerful cartels. According to La Jornada, a leading Mexican newspaper, more than a dozen lawyers have volunteered to defend the beauty queen.

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