SOME of the most ruthless gangs in modern society have become so under the leadership of a new age of callous young women unafraid to destroy their threats “like flies”.
From a murderous Australian mum to a Chinese gang boss with 16 lovers, women determined to avenge their loved ones or get ahead in the underworld can no longer be underestimated.
A bloodthirsty 40-year-old female guerrilla fighter known only by her alias of Patricia, who heads Colombian terrorist group ELN’s regional unit, was alleged to be the mastermind behind the abduction of Liverpool star Luis Diaz’ dad.
Little is known about her true identity but her reputation as a tyrant has preceded her since 2006, when she reportedly began her guerrilla career aged just 23.
She managed to scale the ranks of the ELN faster than the men who came before her “due to her leadership and ability to conduct special operations”, according to local media.
Whispers of her cruelty, ranging from kidnappings of “peasants” to murders and attacks on Colombian police and troops, continue to incite fear in those living in northern South America.
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Patricia is just one of many cold and calculated women rising toin a trend which emerged in Italy decades ago but has now reached its peak.
Another is prominent South African gangland figure Simone Jasmin, known locally as the ““.
The 35-year-old allegedly ran a violent drug gang out of Wentworth, south of Durban, called “The Cartel” before she was assassinated in 2020 by people still unidentified by police.
Officers who attended the scene told local media an assassin opened the passenger door of an Uber with Jasmin inside and shot her twice in the chest, three times in the stomach, and once in the leg.
A local community leader, whose name has been withheld for her own protection, told The Sun: “Simone was one of the youngsters that I personally grew up with.
“She was a lovely young person but things turned out where you date the wrong person and then that person ends up showing you the lifestyle and then you get hooked because of money.”
After her first boyfriend died, Jasmin reportedly dated three other gang members, all of whom were killed in drug wars, and earned herself a second nickname – the “Black Widow”.
A police source told local media outlet IOL: “Unlike many of the gangsters and the boyfriends she dates, Moni did not just want to just deal drugs but she wanted to [be] a wholesaler.
“Within a few short years she managed to open distribution channels to dealers in Umlazi, Lamontville and KwaMashu. She was the main supplier of heroin to those dealers.”
If anyone dared question her authority, they would be “taken out immediately”, the publication reported.
Police sources claimed any time she took over a “drug corner” would be preceded by wanton shootings “that took out her enemies like flies”.
It is estimated Jasmin’s gang raked in about R200,000 (£8,600) a day in drug profits.
You either kill or get killed, that’s how their game goes
The Sun’s source said local girls as young as 12 looked up to ganglords like Simone: “They want to get rich now, they want to drive these posh cars, they want to carry thick money, they want to be praised, to be untouchable.
“There are girls but the girls are behind the boys and they do post [online], they have big mouths.”
She claimed another local female gang leader died two months ago in circumstances similar to Simone’s.
The source said: “[The woman] was also shot, shot in the head and the chest, and it was sad.
“Someone I know told me she left two children behind. She was about 30.
“You either kill or get killed, that’s how their game goes.”
Jasmin’s group The Cartel is believed to have been feuding with other drug dealers at the time of her assassination.
News website IOL wrote in 2020: “It is alleged Jasmin’s gang killed a prominent member of an Umlazi gang linked to the taxi industry and dumped his body in a field.
“Members of the Umlazi gang retaliated and shot up a flat in barracks with AK-47s, believing Jasmin and her gang were present.”
It was after this alleged assassination attempt that Jasmin was killed.
The Sun’s source said crime in Wentworth had increased dramatically since her death, such that a young person now dies every two weeks.
Prominent Italian criminal organisation the Camorra of Naples has long seen women as important members, but there have never been more in leadership positions than there are today.
Cristina Pinto, the Camorra’s first female killer, was only young when she joined the Rione Traiano clan and became its new boss.
With a background in armed robberies, which began when she was just 16, she became the bodyguard of Camorra bossPerrella by the time she was 20 and took over the clan when he was arrested.
She was arrested herself in 1992, when she was 22, and sentenced to 22 years’ prison for three homicides and criminal conspiracy, reportedly retreating into the shadows upon her release and becoming a fisherwoman.
Camorra’s first-ever female boss Assunta Maresca – dubbed Pupetta, which translates in English to Little Doll – rose to notoriety when she shot and killed her rival, while pregnant.
They’re very good at mapping out strategy, even sharper [than the men]
General Gaetano Maruccia
In 2009, a commander of the Carabinieri paramilitary police in the Naples area, General Gaetano Maruccia said: “There is a growing number of women who hold executive roles in the Camorra.
“They are either widows [of mob bosses] or wives of husbands who have been put in prison. They hold the reins.
“They’re very good at mapping out strategy, even sharper [than the men].”
As well as performing the more “traditional” roles in the home, such as cutting and repackaging cocaine and heroine, Naples-based prosecutor Stefania Castaldi said women were shaking down merchants in extortion rackets and trafficking drugs worth millions.
As of 2018, women make up more than 30 percent of the shareholders of Italian mafia firms, according to Transcrime research.
In Australia, the matriarch of Melbourne’s infamous Moran criminal family, Judith Moran, was convicted and sentenced in 2011 to 26 years’ prison for the 2009 murder of her brother-in-law Des Moran.
Known for her designer sunglasses and blow-dried blonde hair, Moran had previously lost two husbands and two sons to gangland killings.
Victoria’s Supreme Court heard in 2011 that she had not pulled the trigger on her brother-in-law but had had a gunman kill him.
The “Queen of the Pacific”, Sandra Ávila Beltrán, was the third generation of her family to be heavily involved in crime, earning her nickname after trafficking 10 tonnes of cocaine from Mexico to California in 2001.
She disappeared when the drugs were seized by authorities but was finally caught in 2007 and spent seven years behind bars before returning to Mexico.
So legendary is Beltrán, who married two police officers-turned-cartel members, both killed in Mexican drug wars, that she had a song written about her.
Lyrics to the song, by band Los Tigres del Norte, include the line: “The more beautiful the rose, the sharper the thorns.”
The “godmother of the underworld”, Chinese gang boss Xie Caiping was jailed for 18 years in 2009 after being convicted of organising and leading a criminal syndicate, running gambling dens, illegal imprisonment, harbouring people taking illegal drugs, and giving bribes to officials, the state news agency Xinhua reported.
She was known to have kept 16 lovers, according to local media, though police said she had just one: a popular 26-year-old actor.
Vietnam’s most prolific “drug queen” Vũ Hoàng Oanh, otherwise known as Oanh Hà, was arrested in November last year, aged 65.
It was alleged she led an international illegal drug operation that trafficked hundreds of kilograms of heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy into Vietnam, the Vietnamese government reported.
Her arrest came after her mafia boss sister Dung Hà was murdered by one of Vietnam’s most high-profile criminals, the “godfather of Saigon” Năm Cam.
A joint investigation by Insight Crime and Universidad del Rosario’s Colombian Observatory of Organised Crime claimed women’s participation in drug trafficking, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling in Latin America was also “growing and diversifying”.
It referenced well-known female “drug traffickers” from Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia, as well as “sex traffickers” from Panama and Colombia, who each used varying levels of violence “to keep people in line and maintain control” of their gangs.
The report said women often now assume the roles of “ringleaders, or ‘madames'” in human trafficking and migrant smuggling operations.