|Beauty pageant titleholder|
|Born||Laura Elena Zúñiga Huizar
January 3, 1985
Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
Nuestra Belleza Sinaloa 2008 (Dethroned) Nuestra Belleza Internacional México 2009 (Dethroned)Reina Hispanoamericana 2008 (Dethroned)
Laura Elena Zúñiga Huizar (born January 3, 1985) is a Mexican model and beauty queen, center of a drug trafficking scandal in December 2008. The critically acclaimed 2011 film Miss Bala (Miss Bullet) is loosely based on Zúñiga and her involvement in the events of December 2008.
After winning the state pageant title of Nuestra Belleza Sinaloa, Laura Zúñiga competed against thirty-two other contestants in the national pageant [Nuestra Belleza México 2008], held on September 20, 2008 in Monterrey, Nuevo León, where she placed as the suplente and was automatically selected to represent the country in the Miss International 2009 pageant. On October 30, 2008 she participated in Reina Hispanoamericana (Hispanic-American Queen) representing Mexico in Santa Cruz, Bolivia bringing the title to Mexico for the first time.
On December 22, 2008, Laura Zuñiga was arrested in Zapopan, Jalisco, along with seven men who allegedly carried US$53,000 in cash, two AR-15 rifles, three handguns, 633 cartridges of different calibers, and 16 cellphones. The arrest was made by the state police of Zapopan and Mexican Army officers. In her initial statement, Zuñiga declared that she was on her way to a party in Guadalajara and that she and her boyfriend were going "shopping in Colombia and Bolivia." The media noted that Colombia and Bolivia are both  main suppliers of cocaine to the Mexican drug cartels. During a later interview with Joaquín López-Dóriga in Radio Formula, Zuñiga declared that she was kidnapped by her boyfriend Ángel Orlando García Urquiza, apparently a high-ranking leader of the Juárez Cartel and brother of an imprisoned drug lord, and that she was unaware of his illicit activities. The critically acclaimed 2011 film, Miss Bala, or Miss Bullet, is loosely based on Zuñiga. Several key facts are switched in the film, for example, replacing the setting from Sinaloa to Baja California. The basic structure of Zuñiga's story remains, however, such as the allegations of corruption in the pageant organization, Zuñiga's presentation to the media at the time of her arrest, and her allegations that she was not involved in narcotrafficking. Both Zuñiga and the main character, Laura Guerrero, even wear the same clothing when presented to the media and when crowned beauty queens.
The Nuestra Belleza Mexico organization released a statement saying it had no knowledge of Zuñiga's alleged narco-trafficking ties and that it would decide pending an investigation whether or not to let her keep her crown. "Nuestra Belleza Mexico has been a serious, honest and transparent organization", said the group's president Lupita Jones, in the statement sent to the media. On December 25, 2008, a second statement was released announcing that Zuñiga had been stripped of her title as Miss Mexico International 2009. Her successor, Anagabriela Espinoza, was awarded the crown. On December 26, 2008, she was dethroned as Reina Hispanoamericana 2008 and replaced by Vivian Noronha Cia from Brazil.
Zuñiga was sentenced to 40 days under arrest but was released from the detention center on January 30, 2009 after the judge found no evidence that tied her to any criminal activity. As of 2010, Zuñiga has made a quiet comeback into the modeling industry.
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Vivian Noronha Cia
|Nuestra Belleza Internacional México