In Narcas: The Secret Rise of Women in Latin America’s Cartels, VICE journalist and feminist Deborah Bonello ventures deep into the uncharted realms of influential women entrenched in the Latin American drug cartels. While the criminal world echoes with notorious names like Pablo Escobar and “El Chapo” Guzmán, Bonello draws attention to the often overlooked but equally formidable women, termed “narcas.”
These women aren’t merely shadowy figures behind infamous drug lords. Instead, they are the strategic masterminds and critical operatives who orchestrate complex trafficking networks. Figures like Doña Digna, the linchpin of the Valle cartel, and Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, a stalwart associate of “El Chapo”, emerge from these tales.
Although cartels are traditionally perceived as male-dominated realms, Bonello, in her role as a senior editor at VICE World News, challenges this gender stereotype. She underscores the significant influence, power, and sometimes, ruthlessness, these women wield. Many hail from impoverished backgrounds, driven into the murky underworld not just by circumstance but often by a genuine allure to the power and wealth it promises.
A notable instance is Honduran Digna Valle, a prominent entity in the Valle cocaine cartel. Upon her 2018 arrest, she purportedly turned informant against her kin, earning a relatively lenient sentence. The narrative also introduces pioneers like María Dolores Estévez Zuleta, a vanguard in the Mexican cartel’s history, and contemporaries like Emma Coronel, the renowned spouse of “El Chapo.”
Bonello’s narrative further stands out as she delves into her investigative odyssey, weaving in tales of risks, encounters with the criminal underworld, and law enforcement collaborations. Far from casting these women as mere victims or sensationalizing their roles, she presents a balanced exploration.
Narcas the complexity of their lives and actions, revealing a world where ambition, strategy, and danger intersect. Readers are left with a profound understanding of these women’s pivotal roles, challenging pre-existing notions and offering a fresh perspective on the intricate tapestry of organized crime and investigative journalism.
WORDS: Scientific Inquirer Staff.