Irma Valentina Ramos Espinoza, alias "Comandante Rojo"

The Mexican government has arrested the third known female leader of a Zetas cell, whose Nuevo Leon-based group included several active duty police and a former member of the Navy.

On November 19, the government of Nuevo Leon state announced that it had arrested Irma Valentina Ramos Espinoza, alias "Comandante Rojo," who they claim served as the head of a Zetas affiliate in the center of the state. Authorities say that Ramos' group included five municipal police officers, as well as a man who had previously served in the country's navy.

A total of 19 individuals were arrested in the operation, and the group has been linked to a number of crimes in the state, including several extortion rackets, 16 kidnappings and 12 murders.

InSight Crime Analysis

Ramos is the third woman that Mexican officials have identified as a local Zetas boss since September 2011, when officials announced the first such arrest. While there have been rare cases of women filling leadership roles in a number of Mexican drug trafficking organizations, the trend suggests that female commanders may be more prevalent in the Zetas' structure than in other criminal groups.

The fact that Espinoza commanded a group of active-duty municipal police officers is also significant, as it illustrates the level of corruption common among many local police forces in the country. This has caused the government to rely more on federal officials in its fight against organized crime, but federal police have proven to be susceptible to criminal influence as well.

Mexico is currently attempting an ambitious reform at all levels to counter the problem, performing background checks and other vetting procedures, but progress is slow. According to official figures, 80 percent of all police who have failed these tests are still employed, and most states have yet to fully assess their entire police forces.

A total of 19 individuals were arrest

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...