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June 11, 2011
They are known as “Las Barbies,” “Las Tinkerbells” and “Las Reinas.” But the images they evoke in the criminal underworld in Mexico are far from those of innocent dolls, bells and queens.
According to intelligence reports, the terms are used by drug-trafficking organizations for “mujeres sicarias” — hit women.
Then there are the “Radieras” and the “Halconeras.” They act as lookouts, manning radios at strategic points on the roads and who, like hawks, watch the activity of Mexico’s federal police, military and marines in order to alert the cartels.
The participation of women in cartels for kidnapping, extortion and murder is seen by some as females taking a wider role in general.
Phil Jordan, a former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center and formerly in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Dallas, recalled that during his 30-year career, women played an important role within the cartels, “but that they were mostly used as couriers to transport drugs and money.”
“We are now seeing that they are taking on more of a male-role responsibility. The Colombians and Cubans have utilized this tactic, but now we are seeing the Mexican cartels increase the use of women in their organizations especially with the escalation of rivalries in Mexico,” he said.
Jordan said Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera’s Sinaloa Cartel also is believed to have sicarias. He said that intelligence sources point to sicaria movements in the states of San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas, with women trained in kidnapping, extortion, torture and killing.