The Sinaloa Cartel, one of Mexico’s most formidable drug trafficking organizations, thrives on its intricate network of men and has a hierarchy of influential women shaping its destiny. Often born into the cartel’s legacy, these women play symbolic and strategic roles within the organization.
The reigning queen
At the pinnacle of the cartel sits Jesus Adriana Meza Torres. Born into a family entrenched in the cartel’s affairs, she was acclimatized to the violent world from an early age. Her parents, Raul Meza Ontiveros (known as “El M6”) and Aida Elizabeth Torres Felix, are related to the notorious Javier and Manuel Torres Felix, dubbed “El JT” and “El M1”.
It was on March 25, 2010, at the age of 20, that Meza Torres truly cemented her position within the cartel by marrying Ovidio Guzmán López, aka “El Ratón,” a son of the infamous Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Anabel Hernandez, in her revealing book “Las señoras del Narco, Amar en el Infierno” (Ladies of the Narco, Loving in Hell), opines that this union was not just a marriage, but a “symbolic and strategic act,” solidifying alliances amidst the raging war with the Beltrán Leyva cartel.
Moreover, Meza Torres has showcased her resilience, successfully contesting the blocking of her bank accounts by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) in 2015. With the uncertainty surrounding Emma Coronel’s involvement with the cartel after her release, Meza Torres has undisputedly established herself as the reigning queen of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The power and privileges of cartel’s princesses
Beneath the queen, the cartel’s structure boasts a cadre of “princesses,” women who enjoy lives of luxury and influence through their familial and marital ties.
Karime Yameli Torres Acosta, previously aligned with Serafin Zambada Ortiz, switched allegiances, entering a relationship with Dámaso López Serrano, a significant defector who testified against Los Chapitos in the U.S.
Another notable princess is Griselda Guzmán López, a direct descendant of “El Chapo”. In a twist of fate, her wedding was postponed due to a failed operation targeting her uncle, Ovidio, known as the “Culiacanazo.” The couple celebrated their union in January 2020. It recently marked the birth of their first child.
Adding to this list is Zulema Aracely Lindoro, linked with Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, recognized by the U.S. as a leader of Los Chapitos. Their family life remains private, with limited details on their children.
Elsa Felix Beltran, married to Alfredo Guzman Salazar (“Alfredillo”), also holds a notable position within the cartel. Despite her innocent demeanor, her family connections run deep, with her brother being one of Los Chapitos’ main operatives.
Gabriela Gisela Fernández Amezola, married to the leader of Los Chapitos’ primary hitmen group, presents a dichotomy. While her husband leads a violent faction, Fernández Amezola portrays herself with an almost childlike innocence in photographs, a stark contrast to her cartel connections.
Lastly, young Frida Sofia Guzman Munoz, daughter of the slain Edgar Guzman Lopez, showcases her loyalty to the cartel’s legacy through her music. Her fervent renditions of songs dedicated to her cartel-affiliated family members, particularly her uncle Ovidio Guzmán, are a testament to the enduring influence of the cartel on its younger generation.
The intricate web of relationships, allegiances, and power dynamics within the Sinaloa Cartel underscores the pivotal role women play in its sustenance. As Anabel Hernandez aptly captures in her work, these women, both queens and princesses, constitute the cartel’s innermost circle, ensuring its legacy endures.