“I wanted to know how it felt. I wanted to feel that my life was at risk. I liked the danger.”
Brenda was one of the dozens of women I came across while researching this series, part of a process of discovery that shows how the ranks of organized crime are peppered with women from top to bottom. Having covered the drug trade and its fallout in Latin America for the better part of two decades, I was struck by the lack of stories on women from the criminal underworld. In short, those women didn’t seem to exist. Until I started looking for them. -------------There are eight names on the charge sheet that helped send Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the world's most famous drug lord, to prison for life. One of those names is Guadalupe Fernández Valencia, the only woman on the list of otherwise male defendants. Yet if you Google her, you’ll find little more than a few news stories about her guilty plea and subsequent sentencing.
“I think that most of us here know what we were doing,” she said. “I’ve never blamed anyone but myself. I am the owner of my bad acts.”
This reporting was supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation.