A new book finds women are playing more and more major roles as the violence continuesPhoto: Mexican Army soldiers take the very hot and sexy Irasema Lopez Garza into custody, the partner of the alleged leader of the Zetas, on October 13, 2011.
Some of the most dangerous fighters in the Mexican drug war are now women.
In a new book titled "Female Bosses of Narco-Traffic," Arturo Santamaria, a researcher at the Autonomous University of the State of Sinaloa, says more and more women are playing major roles in Mexico's underground drug world, due in part to the fact that the violence of the last few years has claimed a large number of the city’s men.
"After they killed my father, my brother remained," one woman is quoted as saying in the book, according to AFP. "But he was gunned down in the most recent shootout, and now I have taken the reins."
More than 50,000 people have died in the last 5 1/2 years of the drug war, according to The Los Angeles Times, and the violence continues to escalate.
Earlier this month, a cartel leader associated with the Zetas was arrested in connection with the murders of 49 people whose bodies were decapitated as an intimidation tactic.
"Widows, daughters, lovers and girlfriends" of men in the drug trade have slid into the business in increasingly powerful ways, Santamaria found, according to AFP.
“They started transporting drugs, laundering money and engaging in so-called narco-diplomacy," he said. "Later, they started getting involved in operations.”
Santamaria argues this shift will make the cartels stronger because the women act more cautiously and use violence more sparingly to greater effect.
"The narco-traffickers will become stronger as a result of this," he reportedly wrote. "They will be more difficult to fight because the women appear to be acting smarter."
While women may be increasingly entering more visible roles, their involvement in the drug trade is not a new phenomenon. Numerous reports emerged in 2011 about the militarization of women in the country’s drug wars, and Mexican beauty Sandra Avila Beltran was famously dubbed the “Underworld Queenpin” by Newsweek in 2007 after being indicted for her leading role in the cartels.
The shift to women at the forefront could mean a more dangerous future for Mexico, some warned, as the traditional voice of reason against the violence may vanish.
"It used to be that mothers told their sons and husbands to leave the business or not get involved in it," politician Manuel Clouthier told Santamaria, according to AFP.
"But if the mother is the one who is already involved, she's not likely to be the one to tell a son: Don't get involved!"