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Jun-20-2011 01:13printcomments

Security News: Equal Opportunity Hit Squads

Young women were arrested following a pair of shootouts with police in Jalisco that left six suspected Zetas dead

Mexican girls in gangs
Girls and their guns: Suspected members of the Zeta cartel, among them two teens who were told only to show their backs, are presented to the media in Guadalajara. Read more: dailymail.co.uk

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - In Mexico, young girls and women work as look-outs and even soldiers for criminal syndicates.

This week, security officials in the western state of Jalisco presented to the media three alleged female spies and hit women who were tied to the Zetas organization. The young women were arrested following a pair of shootouts June 14 with Jalisco state and municipal police that left six suspected Zetas dead and 10 others arrested, almost all of them between 16 and 21 years of age.

Maria Celeste, a 16-year-old from Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, was reportedly fresh out of boot camp. The teen told reporters she had received a two-month training course conducted by former military personnel in the handling of AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, but had not yet been instructed in the use of grenades.

“I was invited by some friends who were going to work for the Zetas,” she said.

A separate report identified the trainer as 24-year-old Ricardo Adan Villareal, a former soldier assigned to the 8th Infantry Battalion in Mazatlan. Villareal was reportedly killed during last Tuesday’s confrontations.

A 21-year-old identified as Beatriz Hernandez said she was part of an eight-woman cell tasked with monitoring authorities on behalf of the Zetas. Originally from Veracruz, Beatriz said she worked in the town of Fresnillo, Zacatecas, in return for a salary of a little less than $400 every 15 days. Another 21-year-old detainee, Maria Guadalupe Sandoval, was paraded before the media dressed in military-style clothing.

According to Sandoval, her knowledge of weaponry and previous combat experience netted a monthly salary of about one thousand dollars. Mexico’s current daily minimum wage is about five dollars, and jobs paying more than three daily minimum wages can be very scarce in Jalisco and Zacatecas.

Within the past two years, stories of female hit squads have also surfaced in Ciudad Juarez to the north. According to one press account, dozens of women killers were in the employ of La Linea, an organization which is now said to be aligned with the Zetas.

The armed encounters that resulted in the arrests of Sandoval and the other alleged Zetas occurred in a section of Jalisco bordering the state of Zacatecas that has been a flash point of violence.

Luis Carlos Najera, Jalisco state secretary of public security, told a Mexican reporter the Zetas are attempting to establish a corridor between the coastal state of Nayarit and Zacatecas that would have to pass through his state, but that Jalisco police have repulsed the attempts so far.

In the aftermath of other clashes in the same region last month, Mexican authorities detained 18 suspects and confiscated weapons as well as a so-called narco-laboratory set up to manufacture illegal drugs. The hardware seized by law enforcement this week included two armored trucks, an M-60 machine gun, several assault rifles, a grenade launcher and ammunition.

An alleged Zeta leader, “Comandante Ceteno,” was reported among those slain this week. He was identified as 41-year-old Heriberto Centeno Madrid of Fresnillo, Zacatecas. Centeno had been a fugitive since escaping from a Zacatecas prison together with 52 other inmates in May 2009.


  • Proceso/Apro, June 17, 2011. Article by Alberto Osorio.
  • El Diario de Juarez/El Universal, June 16, 2011.
  • La Jornada (Jalisco Edition), June 16, 2011. Article by Georgina Garcia Solis.
  • Noticiasmasimportantes.com, June 15, 2011.
  • La Jornada, May 24, 2011.
  • Regionaldigital.com.mx, April 1, 2011.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Vic June 22, 2011 11:31 am (Pacific time)

Apologies to Luke...I evidently misunderstood your post..and certainly did not mean to trivialize anyone's suffering. I live around 800 miles from the border where things are certainly different.

Vic June 21, 2011 8:23 am (Pacific time)

I meant to add that I live in Mexico..have for two years now.

Vic June 21, 2011 8:21 am (Pacific time)

Luke...you off your meds again? I know quite a few Mexican women and not one has been beaten, gang raped or forced to be a sex slave. Your ignorance and racism is showing. How about the Lyndie Englands of America who willfully sign up to be part of the US occupation forces ? What is their excuse ?

Editor: Vic, There is no similarity to Ciudad Juarez and the rest of Mexico; and at some point calling people racist does get old when they are an anti-racism fighter like our writer Luke.  Luke constantly laments racist   Vic,  there isn't a huge 'femicide' issue in Juarez, or that women aren't being raped and murdered every damned day?  It alarms me to consider how horrible things are for the good people in places like this, minimizing the suffering of the women and girls of Juarez is not something I can do  

Luke Easter June 20, 2011 7:30 pm (Pacific time)

Well, it's either that or be beaten, gang raped, then beaten again into submission and, "Join" the forced sex slave trade. Where they are, beaten and gang raped some more. You do the math.

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