Police in the northern city of Monterrey have arrested a woman who allegedly worked as an assassin for a local Zetas outfit, and is suspected of killing at least 20 people for the criminal organization.

On May 7, state police officials in Nuevo Leon announced that they had broken up a cell of the Zetas drug cartel.  At its head was Maria Jimenez, “alias La Tosca,” a 26 year-old woman who reportedly confessed to the murder of 20 individuals, including that of a local police detective.

La Cronica de Hoy reports that authorities arrested three men who allegedly formed part of Jimenez’s hit squad, as well as three women accused of selling drugs for the gang. According to Milenio, all seven individuals were arrested on May 1, after police noticed a grey van without license plates matching the description of a stolen vehicle.

InSight Crime Analysis

Much of the English-language press about the arrest has focused on Maria Jimenez’s gender and the fact that few other female cartel operatives have been suspected of so many murders. However, this may be a reflection of the media’s tendency to overlook the complex roles that women play as participants in Mexico’s “drug war.” A number of female assassins have been apprehended in Mexico in recent years, and a female plaza chief for the Zetas was arrested outside Monterrey in August.

Indeed, when officials broke up a Zetas training camp last June, they were surprised to find that half of the trainees were females. Even if female assassins are not common, these incidents at the very least suggest that gender roles are shifting as the drug conflict heats up.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...