While it is often men who are associated with the infamous drug cartels of Mexico, a number of “cartel queens” have been active at the top of the tree over the years.
Attention falls on the women involved in drug empires after the release of Emma Coronel Aispuro, 34.
The wife of notorious drug kingpin 'El Chapo' has been released after two years of her three-year sentence, which saw her locked up for her contribution to the former Sinaloa cartel boss’s operation.
READ MORE: El Chapo's beauty queen wife to be released today as she plans to visit drug lord husband
She pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and money laundering and begged for forgiveness at her sentencing.
The daughter of a drug trafficker she met Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman when she was just 17 and the couple made their relationship known in 2018.
But she is far from the only woman to have risen high up the ranks of South American drug cartels, with a number of other key figures also in the picture.
Sandra Ávila Beltrán, or the Queen of the Pacific, was born into a life of crime with both her parents and grandparents going into the business.
The 62-year-old married twice, both to police officers who joined cartels and both of whom were killed in the drug wars, The Sun reports.
Her nickname was earned after she loaded up tuna boats with 10 tons of cocaine before they set off from Manzanillo, Mexico, to California in 2001.
When cops got hold of it, she vanished but was finally arrested on September 28, 2007, and extradited to the US.
She is understood to have been caged for seven years before returning to Mexico.
The daughter of El Chapo’s rival Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, or El Mencho, Jessica Oseguera was always destined for a life of crime.
She was sentenced to two and half years the day after Coronel Aispuro for helping her father launder money through a number of businesses from a tequila firm to a sushi restaurant.
Her dad runs the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in Mexico and is on the most wanted list, but Jessica managed to get out of the cage after just 25 months.
Valeska Pereira Monteiro, from Brazil, was on holiday in 2021 when she was arrested.
Nicknamed Her Majesty, the 27-year-old was accused of managing the books of a gang in the northeastern state of Ceara.
She lives a luxurious lifestyle which some say she funds with her “blood money” and has previously been arrested for being part of a gang of robbers.
The gold-gun-toting María Guadalupe López Esquivel, nicknamed the Dame of Death, was only 21 years old.
The outlet reports her involvement with the world of crime formed when she fell for a gang member called “M2,” Miguel Fernandez.
She had joined a life of crime from a middle-class background, teaming up with the El Mencho cartel as it took on El Chapo's Sinaloa Cartel.
But Maria suffered a gunshot wound to the neck during a shootout and died from her injuries.
Documents later seized suggested she had been involved in kidnapping, extortion and other criminal activities and had managed and given orders to assassins.
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