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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.
“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.
“The cartel bosses like to build them up as their reinas — but they are as deadly as their male counterparts,” Jordan said.
Jordan said that intelligence sources say that young, well-developed women are being recruited at university campuses. “In other words, the woman is a weapon, especially when they want to infiltrate or kill a rival that can succumb to the power of the woman,” Jordan said.
Some women are recruited by the cartels, but many already within the ranks of criminal organizations are girlfriends, family members or relatives of the men in the cartels, which tend to be family-oriented.