A Look at Mexican Drug Cartel Membership Trends

By Carlton Purvis
In a report on the increased participation of women in the drug cartels, The Guardian says women are taking on more active roles than in the past. Six of the people arrested in the Jalisco raid were female. The Guardian tells the story of Karla Robles, who started as a drug mule at 16 but was caught by police and now resides in a prison wing for other traffickers and female assassins or sicarias. In a video from Mexican police (attached to the Guardian story), a gunman tells about how his cartel, La Linea, would recruit young women to work as sicarias. Women who get involved are often girlfriends, wives or family members, Felbab-Brown says.
Modernization has enabled women to take on more roles in drug trafficking operations, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a professor who studies U.S. Mexico Border issues at University of Texas Brownsville, told The Brownsville Herald for a story published last week. “Globalization, technology and modernization have facilitated the incorporation of women into most productive activities and in nations’ development in general. It is not weird, then, to see an increasing participation of women in drug trafficking activities – even as sicarias,” she told The Herald.
“It’s very hard to get any sort of baseline, and it’s still infrequent enough to estimate any specific trend, but in Mexico you do have participation of women in the management of the organization such as money laundering," says Felbab-Brown. Whether that's a big change or just something that's only now being discovered because of better intelligence is hard to know, she adds.
Organizations have begun focusing on community involvement to counter the recruitment efforts of the cartels. Youth programs run by churches and schools are springing up in areas where unemployment is high and prospects are low. These programs should focus on recreational programs in addition to gang intervention programs, drug treatment and prevention, workforce preparation, and economy boosting activities, says a 57-page report on the drug war in Mexico published by the Council of Foreign relations in March.


Bordering on Danger, from Matthew Harwood of Security Management

Female Assassins a Growing Part of Drug Cartels  from The Brownsville Herald

Stemming the Violence in Mexico, but Breaking the Cartels  from Vanda Felbab-Brown of The Brookings Institute

Caption: Ten members of the Zeta cartel who were arrested after a raid on a training camp on Wednesday are displayed for media by Jalisco State Police. Photo courtesy of the Secretariat of Public Security of Mexico.


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