WITH her red hair flowing over her shoulders, pretty Juana looks like any other young woman in her 20s — apart from the fact she's holding a machine gun. Though she may have an innocent face, Juana is actually one of the world's most dangerous women - a bloodthirsty assassin who murdered five men and then drank their warm blood before having sex with their decapitated bodies.
Girls as young as seven are kidnapped or forcibly taken from their parents by drug lords and trained to kill, while others are lured in by the glamorous lifestyle flaunted by the millionaire drug traffickers. Although it is not yet known if she was murdered, many of her contemporaries have been targeted by squads of rival women.
But their successors continue to flaunt their bloodthirsty lifestyles on social media, posing with guns, flak jackets and even tigers in a bid to show off their wealth. This year, the number of deaths attributed to the drug wars between January and June was recorded at 17, - a new record. Others have found themselves behind bars.
The past three years have seen a percent increase in the number of women imprisoned for federal crimes in Mexico. Professor Andrew Chesnut, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, says there's a growing trend for "young, beautiful and reckless" women lured by the millionaire lifestyle of the drug gangs to be lured into violence. Photojournalist Katie Orlinksy, who spent years documenting the lives of the cartels in Mexico, says the "feminisation of the drug war" is a recent trend, fuelled by the mass murder of men, leaving partners widowed, and the lack of opportunity for young girls.
In an article for the Alexia Foundation , she writes: "In a shattered economy Born in Hidalgo, near Mexico city, Juana was recruited by the ruthless Los Zetas cartel while working as a prostitute.
Pregnant at 15, she turned to prostitution to support her child before becoming a lookout for the Zetas, keeping watch for enemies and cops for up to eight hours a day. In January , a startling picture of a slight young woman, hair scraped back and delicate gold chain adorning her neck and hugging a machine gun, went viral on Twitter and Facebook.
Four months after the picture was loaded an abandoned truck was found in a car park in the city of Matamoros with three blue and white beer coolers in the back. Another woman and a man, also thought to be Los Ciclones killers, were found in the other ice boxes. In a brazen postscript, a rival gang posted a picture of the three corpses, before dismemberment, on Twitter as a warning, writing: "Keep sending these fing a—holes It will happen to all the filth who want to support Cyclones.
The murders were thought to have been the work of another female murderer known as Gladys of the Zetas — who has never been caught. Beginning her career at 20, when she started dating Erick Davalos Von Borstel, a member of the Damaso cartel, Ojeda swiftly killed her way to position of leader, with 50 hitmen and women beneath her. With a new army of assassins, a fleet of drug dealers on distinctive red motorbikes and countless corrupt police officers in her pocket, she staked her claim on La Paz and corpses began to pile up, often dumped on their families doorsteps with body parts missing.
He told them on one occasion, when Ojeda needed a new truck, her lieutenant El Tyson introduced her to friends who were selling theirs. Instead of paying for the truck, she killed the couple and when El Tyson objected, she cut off his forearms and killed him as well.
In a worrying trend, cartels are increasingly recruiting children between the age of seven and nine, either by coercion or kidnap. One such recruit is a fresh-faced beauty known as Comandante Malandra — meaning female thug commander. Recruited by the Los Zetas cartel at the age of nine, she began to trend on social media two years ago, posing in body armour with a two way radio and pointing an AK47 in the air as she pouts into the camera.
The website El Blog del Narco claims the young woman, whose real name is unknown, is a female assassin who typifies the kids lured in by the lifestyles and riches of the millionaire drug traffickers only to be drawn into the brutal violence of the gangs. Whether enticed in by the promise of endless riches, or forced to work as killers by the threat of violence, the story rarely ends well for the deadly Sicarias. Claudia Felix won't be the last young, beautiful corpse to become a perpetrator and victim of the brutal cartel battle.
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