A Colombian beauty queen accused of smuggling drugs has been removed from the Unidad 31 prison after being attacked.

Unidad 31 is where New Zealand's Sharon Armstrong is imprisoned.

Angie Sanclemente Valencia, 31, was dubbed the "cocaine queen" for allegedly recruiting young models to carry large quantities of drugs from Argentina to England.

She was named as the head of a narco-trafficking gang by a 21-year-old model caught trying to board a flight at Buenos Aires airport with 55kg of cocaine. The model had been told no one at the airport would try to stop her.

Valencia was arrested after five months on the run, during which time she protested her innocence in an interview with an Argentinian newspaper.

She spent six months in the Centro Federal de Detención de Mujeres Unidad Numero 31, before being transferred to the nearby Numero 3 after being subjected to violent assaults by fellow inmates.

Corruption and lax money laundering laws have seen Argentina descend into a "narco state" in recent years, says Claudio Izaguirre, president of the Asociación Antidrogas de la República Argentina.

But the Argentine authorities appear to be stepping up the fight.

This week, a Colombian said to have been the mastermind behind sending submarines to smuggle drugs into the United States was arrested at Buenos Aires airport.

And in January, the sons of former high-ranking Argentine military leaders were arrested in Barcelona transporting nearly a tonne of cocaine on board a plane normally used to transport patients in medical emergencies.

Brothers Gustavo Adolfo and Eduardo Antonio Juliá - sons of the former head of the air force, were detained. As was Gaston Miret, son of Brigadier José Miret, a former minister in the dictatorship.

Defence Minister Arturo Puricelli admitted the air force must have known about the smuggling operation.