‘Las Señoritas’ Have Been Trafficking Meth for a Cartel Out of US Prisons

Forty-three members of “Las Señoritas” are facing charges for trafficking drugs for the CJNG cartel. One of them was just arrested in Mexico.

MEXICO CITY—A group of dozens of women, known as “Las Señoritas,” trafficked methamphetamine across South Carolina from inside the state’s prisons, with drugs supplied by Mexico’s notorious New Generation Jalisco Cartel (CJNG).

One of the members of the organization, who worked with the group from the outside, was just arrested in Mexico. Jennifer Nicole Burns, 40, who fled the U.S a few years ago to escape arrest, was detained in Mexico City on Feb. 20., reportedly in possession of both fentanyl and cocaine. 


Burns is one of a whopping 43 members of Las Senoritas, most of them women, facing more than 170 charges for trafficking mainly methamphetamine in South Carolina, and 35 are now in custody.  Video released by the authorities shows her being led out of a police truck and into a police station in the upscale neighborhood of Polanco in Mexico City.

Las Señoritas allegedly used contraband cell phones—snuck into prisons in the South Carolina counties of Pickens, Greenville, Laurens, Anderson, and Oconee—to operate a “control and command” center that coordinated the delivery of meth via female operatives on the outside, according to the South Carolina Attorney General's office.

Female collaborators outside the prison would pick up meth delivered to contacts in neighboring Atlanta, and then drive it back to South Carolina, according to the charges. 

Several other women on the indictment other than Burns fled to Mexico in the last few years to avoid capture, according to the U.S authorities. They include Chelsie Marie Anderson, Amy Deanna Cobb a/k/a Emma, Marcy Dawn Vickers, and Kelli Edwards, all of whom remain at large. 

All of them are allegedly living large south of the border with members of the CJNG cartel from whom they source their drug supply directly, according to the authorities. At least one of them is reported to be married to a cartel member, according to South Carolina Attorney Alan General Wilson.


The investigation into the drug-trafficking ring—which was code-named “Prison Empire”— began in 2018. More than $20 million worth of drugs as well as 40 firemans have also been seized as part of the investigation, according to reports. Charges on the indictment include conspiracy, trafficking, and weapons possession.

CJNG is one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico and behind some of the unrelenting production and trafficking of meth and fentanyl for distribution in the U.S. It has a number of strongholds in Mexico but operates across the country. 

“It might surprise people that cartel drug trafficking happens in South Carolina, but it does and we’re fighting to stop it,” Wilson said.

The arrests also highlight the crucial role of women in the drug-trafficking operation. South of the border, the power and influence of women connected to drug-trafficking organizations including the Sinaloa Cartel has grown in recent decades.

The use of cellphones to run drug and extortion rackets out of prisons in countries in Latin America, most commonly Northern Triangle countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has been well-documented, and contraband cell phones in American prisons—considered more secure and efficiently run—has increasingly become a problem.

Prison authorities said they’re working to combat the smuggling of phones into American penitentiaries. The Federal Communications Commission passed a rule that allowed state prisons to identify contraband cell phones and request carriers turn the phone signals off in 2021, according to Wilson. 

The head of the South Carolina Corrections Department, Bryan Stirling, said that rule helped them identify the phones used for drug trafficking in prisons across the state. “I urge the commission to act quickly so we can stop this criminal activity from being orchestrated from behind our nation’s state prison walls.”

Following her arrest in Mexico City, Burns will likely be extradited to the U.S to face the charges against her. 

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