Women rise in the ranks of Mexico’s infamous drug cartels: book


By Pablo Perez, AFP

MEXICO CITY — The high mortality rate in Mexico’s drug war has seen women progress quickly in the shadowy underworld of the cartels and they are increasingly taking on key management roles, a new book says. “Female Bosses of Narco-Traffic,” by Arturo Santamaria, a researcher at the Autonomous University of the State of Sinaloa, traces the ascent of women in drug trafficking organizations. “The narco-traffickers will become stronger as a result of this,” wrote Santamaria. “They will be more difficult to fight because the women appear to be acting smarter.”

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed since 2006 in a government crackdown on organized crime that has set off turf wars among rival groups even as they fight off the Mexican military’s counter-narcotics units. Santamaria said the dead have been mainly males belonging to the cartels, which has led to a changing of the guard with younger men and women rising to the top of drug trafficking organizations. “Widows, daughters, lovers and girlfriends of the men, who are part of the same criminal families,” have had to lend a hand, he said. Interviews with researchers and journalists reproduced in the book tell their story. “After they killed my father, my brother remained,” recalls one of these women. “But he was gunned down in the most recent shootout, and now I have taken the reins.” In the northwestern state of Sinaloa, Mexico’s main poppy and marijuana producing region and home to leading drug lords, many young women grew up around the business.