When you think of drug lords, El Chapo, Pablo Escobar and other individuals often come to mind. But men aren’t the only ones who get their hands dirty in the crime world. There are many women who have also made names for themselves as leaders of drug cartels and other criminal organizations.
‘The Kim Kardashian Of Crime’
The selfie-loving crime queen isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Although the Mexican model and social media personality denied it, many believe Claudia Ochoa Felix leads the deadly Los Antrax gang which oversees drug trafficking in one of the most dangerous areas of Mexico, Sinaloa. The mother of three often posts photos of her dangerous and lavish lifestyle on social media, with guns, cash, and sexy poses. Now that drug king pin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman is in custody, many believe she is slated to take his place in Mexico drug trafficking.
‘Narco Queen’ Angie Sanclemente Valencia
Colombian model and beauty queen Angie Sanclemente Valencia ran from Argentine police for five months before being arrested in 2010. Now 38 years old, Valencia smuggled large amounts of cocaine from Argentina to Cancun and often persuaded other young, beautiful women to help her traffic the drugs. She drew attention to herself when she boarded a flight first class with a Pomeranian dog in her lap. Once arrested by police El Tiempo Columbian newspaper reported that she pleaded, “I feel great anguish and desperation. I can’t rest, I’m very sad that the Argentines have treated me so badly, wiping away the trash with me. I don’t deserve this.”
The Most Prolific Narcotics Trafficker In Central America
The DEA began investigating Marllory Dadiana Chacon Rossell in 2008 for leading one of the biggest drug trafficking rings in Central America. She was responsible for delivering and distributing multiple tons of cocaine headed for the United States. She was also an expert in money laundering and reportedly moved tens of millions of dollars every month. Chacon Rossell launched Bingoton Milionario, a privately run lottery, in order to hide the enormous amount of money she brought in. Her actions drew the attention of the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Then she confessed.
There were reports that Chacon Rossell and the Guatemalan Hayron Borrayo Lasmibat contributed $2 million to the political party Partido Patriota in 2011. The following year, Chacon Rossell, 40, started working with the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida. In 2014, she pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in Miami. She admitted in court documents to conspiring to deliver five or more kilos of cocaine knowing they would be trafficked into the United States. Because she gave up key information, prosecutors recommend she serve less than a 10-year sentence. The US Treasury Department labeled her “one of the most prolific narcotics traffickers in Central America”.
Drug Cartel Assassin
In 2012, Mexican police arrested 26-year-old Maria Jimenez, also known as “La Tosca” or “The Tough One.” Jimenez is a female drug cartel assassin whose hit squad reportedly took part in 20 murders. She was paid $1,700 a month by Mexico’s drug cartel Los Zetas to kill people in several cities in Northern Mexico. Maria was allegedly directly involved in the murder of a police detective. The Zetas cartel controls a large portion of the drug trade in north and east Mexico. It was formed in 1999, and many members have police and military experience.
Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco was known as “La Madrina,” or “the Black Widow” for killing ex-husbands and lovers, the “Cocaine Godmother” and the “Queen of Narco-Trafficking.” Griselda established a cocaine business in New York in the 1970s. She was indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges in 1975, but she escaped to Colombia before she could be arrested. She returned to Miami a couple of years later. She was responsible for the drug and crime epidemic that took over Miami in the 1980s, known as the Miami Drug War or the Cocaine Cowboy Wars. Her drug operation brought in a whopping $80 million per month. Find out what happened to her next.
Murder & Mayhem
Griselda Blanco and her first husband Carlos Trujillo had three sons: Dixon, Uber, and Osvaldo. Her sons were all killed in Colombia after being deported after serving time in prison in the United States. Griselda killed her second husband and business partner Alberto Bravo in 1975 after millions of dollars went missing. She paid someone to assassinate her third husband, Darío Sepúlveda, after he kidnapped their son, Michael Corleone Blanco. Griselda was a drug addict and reportedly killed strippers and business rivals as well as innocent bystanders, including a 4-year-old boy. Then it all started to crumble for her.
A Killer At Age 11
Griselda’s penchant for violence called attention to her illegal activities in South Florida. Her rivals also made several attempts to assassinate her. She fled to California, and DEA agents arrested her at home in 1985. She spent 10 years in jail but continued to run her cocaine business while behind bars. She was charged with just three murders during her lifetime but was responsible for as many as 240 (she reportedly made her first kill when she was only 11 years old). Griselda was released from jail and deported to Colombia in 2004. She was killed in 2012.
The Queen Of Crack
Jemeker Thompson, known as “Queen Pin,” was a leader in the cocaine business in the 1980s in Los Angeles, California. She grew up very poor and was evicted from her home at a very young age. She got into the drug business to avoid poverty. She teamed up with and eventually married an older man, Anthony Mosley, and they started a cocaine trade together. It wasn’t long before they started trafficking crack and became one of the biggest dealers in the city. After her husband was killed, Jemeker kept working and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money.
Ratted Out By Her Boyfriend
Jemeker continued to make alliances in the drug trade when she met a man known as “Cheese.” The two worked together to expand her empire. Then Cheese was arrested and ratted her out to police. She went on the run in the early 1990s, leaving Los Angeles and into hiding. When she returned to attend her son’s sixth-grade graduation ceremony, police arrested her. She was sent to jail for 15 years. While serving time, she found religion. She started a ministry after she was released and continues to run it today.
Police Officer Turned Drug Boss?
Mireya Moreno Carreon was also known as “La Flack” or “Skinny Girl.” She became famous in Mexico after becoming one of the first women to earn power in the Las Zetas drug cartel. Her role in the crime organization involved overseeing drug trafficking in San Nicolas de Los Garza. It wasn’t too long before she became one of Las Zeta’s bosses. She was arrested in 2011 and was caught carrying 100 bags of cocaine and 50 bags of crack. Before linking up with drug lords, Mireya was reportedly a police officer. A San Nicolas de los Garza officer with the same name earned a community service award after confronting kidnappers in April 2009.
Drug Trafficker Sandra Ávila Beltrán
Sandra Ávila Beltrán, also known as “La Reina del Pacífico” or “The Queen of the Pacific,” rose to power in Mexico in the 1970s. At one point, she was so wealthy she carried around suitcases containing millions of dollars in $100 bills. She was a third-generation drug trafficker in her family.
Ávila was known for stocking tuna boats with 10 tons of cocaine and shipping the product from Mexico’s Pacific coast to the United States. She started her stint as a drug kingpin (or should we say queenpin?) in her early 20’s. She was a quick learner and earned the respect of those around her. One rule she always followed–never using drugs herself. She told the Guardian in a 2016 interview: “If you do it, the men think you are just another disposable woman, you won’t be respected.” She was unusual in that world because most women around her were treated as objects used for sex. See what happened next.
Assassinations, Kidnapping & Eventual Arrest
It only took about 10 years before Ávila became the Queen of Cocaine. She counted among her friends “El Chapo” Guzmán and married two times — ex-police commanders who became drug traffickers. Both were assassinated. She spent lavishly and enjoyed her power until the early 2000s when her son was kidnapped. She became a big target after she paid the $5 million ransom and went on the run. In 2007, she and her Colombian cocaine dealer boyfriend were arrested. She was convicted of laundering money for billions of dollars linked to drugs smuggled from Colombia to Mexico. She was released in 2015 and lives in Guadalajara.
The World’s First Female Drug Lord
Enedina Arellano Félix is the head and “financial brains” of the criminal organization known as the Tijuana Cartel. She is also known as “La Jefa,” “La Madrina,” and “La Narcomami.” Enedina’s six brothers were in charge in the 1990s, but she became kingpin following the fall of the cartel’s financial mastermind and her brother Eduardo Arellano’s arrest. Now, most of Enedina’s brothers are either dead or in jail. She is considered the world’s first female drug lord, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and was involved in one of the most horrible drug trafficking wars in the United States. Felix’s contacts with drug suppliers in Colombia, business alliances, and financial knowledge has allowed the cartel to thrive.
The Boss Lady
Thelma Wright, also known as “Boss Lady” and “Queen Pen,” became involved in Philadelphia’s heroin and cocaine trade in the 1980s. Thelma met Jackie Wright, a heroin supplier tied to the Black Mafia, and married him after a whirlwind romance. They had a son in 1982. The Black Mafia was renowned for murdering police, and in 1986 Jackie was shot to death. Thelma took over her husband’s business while raising their son. She became the number-one source of heroin and cocaine in the city and even trafficked drugs across the country. At one point, Thelma was earning $400,000 a month.
No Longer A Drug Lord
In 1991, Thelma narrowly escaped death during a shootout at a Philadelphia nightclub. In the same year, an associate was arrested while attempting to transport drugs through the United States Postal Service. At this point, Thelma decided to change her life. She feared she would end up arrested or dead. She went underground for about 10 years and then published a memoir titled With Eyes From Both Sides—Living My Life In and Out of the Game. Thelma then became a motivational speaker and today urges others to stay away from the drug business. She warns that it will only end in death or prison.
Jamaican Drug Lord
Charmaine Roman earned millions of dollars as the ringleader of a Jamaican marijuana organization. She transported tons of drugs into central Florida and was known for spending lavishly on her home and automobiles. She also won $187,000 from 44 state lottery scratch tickets. But the bulk of her bills weren’t paid by her lottery winnings. Authorities started watching her in 2006. She laundered $3 million at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas between 2010 and 2012. She was arrested in 2013 after she pulled into a parking lot in Orlando with the intent of delivering a 400-pound shipment of marijuana.
Drugs, Guns & Lots Of Cash
When Charmaine was arrested, authorities discovered in her possession several cell phones, multiple passports with different names, four Florida ID cards, social security cards, credit cards, and birth certificates. It didn’t take long for police to figure out that she used several aliases, and it took them some time to determine her actual identity. The sting operation that included Charmaine resulted in 50 arrests and the seizure of illegal firearms, 3,200 pounds of marijuana, and $200,000 in cash. Charmaine and her accomplices were charged with racketeering and marijuana trafficking among other crimes. Authorities believe the group brought thousands of pounds of marijuana into Central Florida and had a penchant for doing business violently.
The Matriarch Of Australia
Kathleen Pettingill was “The Matriarch” of a Melbourne, Australian crime family. She led the organization, which specialized in drug trafficking, arms dealing and robbery. She was formerly a prostitute and at one point ran several brothels. While she and her son were trying to pay her daughter Vicky’s outstanding debts Kathleen was shot through a closed door. As a result, she now has one glass eye. Her children are among Melbourne’s most infamous criminals. Two were convicted of murder. Dennis Allen died of heart attack while awaiting trial for murder. Jamie Pettingill died of a heroin overdose, and Trevor Pettingill was convicted multiple times for firearms and drug-related charges.
Extortion, Counterfeit Money & Drug Trafficking
Italian mobster Raffaella D’Alterio is known as “Miconia” or “The Big Female Kitten” because she survived gunshot wounds during an attempted homicide and seemingly possesses nine lives. She joined organized crime after her criminal husband was shot to death in 2006. She took over his business and became involved in extortion, counterfeit money production, and drug trafficking. As the leader of a faction of the Camorra family, she helped generate upwards of $218 billion a year. She and 65 other members of the syndicate were arrested in 2012. During their takedown, authorities seized cars and properties valued at $20 million.
The Boss Of Bosses
Maria Licciardi is known as “La Madrina” or “The Godmother” and several other names, including the “Boss of Bosses.” She was the boss of the Camorra in Naples, Italy, from 1993 until her arrest in 2001. After both her brothers and husband were killed, she rose to power in the crime syndicate and specialized in extortion and drug trafficking. Unlike her male predecessors, she supported prostitution and was ruthless–drugging and even murdering some of the women. When she aligned with The La Russo Clan a batch of heroin killed 11 people, and the two sides started a war. The feud resulted in 120 deaths. She was eventually arrested and reportedly still runs her business from behind bars.