Over the past three years there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of women imprisoned for federal crimes in Mexico. Ciudad Juarez is the most dangerous city in Mexico, plagued by drug war violence, not to mention poverty and unemployment, which has only escalated after the financial collapse. The rise of women’s involvement in narcotics related crime in Juarez has also escalated, directly linked to poverty and lack of employment opportunities.
The women’s prison of Ciudad Juarez, known as El Cereso (Centro de Readaptacion Social), currently contains 143 incarcerated women, 80 percent of which are there for narcotics related crime. The majority of female inmates are women of a very low economic status. Many of these women are young, uneducated, and vulnerable, easily tricked and used by men to become involved in smuggling and kidnapping because of their economic circumstances.
The expansion of the drug cartels into working directly with street gangs has also led to more female involvement. In a widely circulated video, Rogelio Amaya of the Juarez based gang La Linea says there are between 20 and 30 young women that are part of the gang and trained to kill. He says that they specifically use pretty teenagers in order to trick their opponents.