Beauty queen denies drug traffic charge in court

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A Colombian model accused of luring pretty young Argentine women into smuggling cocaine to Mexico declared her innocence before a judge Thursday, while her lawyer called the evidence against her merely cosmetic.

Attorney Guillermo Tiscornia, speaking to a media crush on the courthouse steps, said he was preparing to ask that his client be dropped from the case for lack of evidence.

“There isn’t a single indication of a direct link between Miss Sanclemente Valencia and this gang,” Tiscornia declared.

Angie Sanclemente Valencia, 30, was detained Wednesday in the capital’s fashionable Palermo neighborhood, where she had been living under a false identity. She dyed her dark brown hair reddish-blonde and told people she was a Mexican student.

Tiscornia said the only accusation against his client is “farcical, given by a person who is deeply involved with the case and sees this as a legal strategy. There is absolutely nothing serious here.”

Sanclemente told the Colombia newspaper El Tiempo in an interview last week that she believes she was framed by relatives of her Argentine boyfriend.

Argentine authorities say Sanclemente is suspected of leading a ring that recruited pretty young women to carry cocaine on flights to Cancun, Mexico.

They launched their investigation in December, when a young Argentine woman was arrested at the Ezeiza international airport with 55 kilograms (120 pounds) of cocaine in her baggage.

Police have arrested six people, including Sanclemente’s Argentine boyfriend and his uncle.

The defense says Sanclemente came to Argentina to spend Christmas with her boyfriend and get to know his family after beginning their relationship in Mexico, where they worked and lived.

Sanclemente’s mother, Jeannette Valencia, also insisted her daughter is innocent, and repeated fears that her beauty will invite attacks in prison.

“She never had anything to do with drug trafficking. She’s always been a woman who kept to a clean life; in Mexico she acted like a well-respected lady,” Valencia told reporters.

Judge Rafael Caputo has 10 days to determine whether to formally charge Sanclemente.