Crime researcher Brandy Cavalli is taking her pen hustle digital.
Claudia Ochoa Felix likes to wear designer clothes and post glamorous selfies on Twitter but according to local media she is very bit as deadly as her black widow namesake.
The 27-year-old makes no secret of her luxurious lifestyle. She sports low-cut designer dresses and bright lipstick in the many photos she posts on her social media sites.
The only thing that separates her from being like any other young woman is her trademark pink AK-47 assault rifle and her pet leopard.
Her photos include pictures of her shopping in luxury boutiques and occasionally snaps of her children, sometimes lying with hundreds of banknotes surrounding them in the bath or on the bed.
Felix is apparently now the leader of the “Los Antrax” hit squad that works for the Mexican Sinaloa cartel – which is one of the main sources of heroin in America.
She married a Sinaloa drug trafficker known as ‘El Chavo’ Felix with whom she had three children – however they later separated.
“Los Antrax” which she is rumoured to lead is the drug cartels elite contract killer squad, that was previously led by her lover Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa, 33, who was arrested in January.
If there is a dirty job that needs to be sorted out, Los Antrax get the assignment.
They also provide the guards that carry out the security for the cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, 66.
Initially she was not in the public spotlight, but all that changed with the murder of a young woman, Yurina Castillo Torres, 23, who local media say was killed by a rival gang after she was mistaken for Claudia.
Since the attack Claudia has not changed her lifestyle much and can still be seen clubbing in the main nightclubs of Mazatlan, Culiacan and Guadalajara, but this time always surrounded by heavily armed men who protect her.
Despite the fact that a rival gang seems determined to wipe her out in a drugs war that has reportedly cost over 100,000 lives since 2006, she denies any connection to any criminal organization, saying claims about her are simply “cowardly lies and slander”.
Article By: Sophie Alexander
In recent years, girls and young women are even forming breakaway girl-only gangs.
“Increasingly, girls have witnessed the status and power given to men in their gangs and decided they could run their own,” Batmanghelidjh says.
It is a view backed by experts.
“Girls form their own gangs to be in charge, to create their own identity,” says Dr Funke Baffour, a clinical psychologist.
In what can only be described as the dark side of female empowerment, Dr Baffour compares women’s thirst for ‘making it’ on the streets to women’s desire to climb their way up the career ladder in a corporate boardroom.
“It’s the same reason why women want to become a CEO of a company. It’s that sense of achievement. Running a girl gang can give them a sense of pride.
“In a mixed gang, women can still feel subordinate to men, even if they have worked their way up. She may also be acting like a man to get ahead – she’s not always being herself in a mixed gang. In many ways this is similar to the barriers women face in the corporate workplace.”
In the business world, battles of equality between men and women still centre around the lack of women running Britain’s boardrooms.
In the invisible, unexplored world of gang culture in Britain, it seems the power struggle between men and women also exists, only it manifests itself in terms of violence and crime.
Take this account from an 18 year-old woman interviewed for the Bedfordshire university report:
The rape and stuff would happen in different rooms but I’m still in the house. I know what’s happening but at the time I will admit nothing like that ever come through my head. I dunno why, it was like I saw myself as a boy, one of them, I dunno why
Batmanghelidjh, who has been working with vulnerable children for over 30 years, says “girls are increasingly mimicking the strength of boys”. This includes carrying firearms, knives and taking part in attacks, as well as looking like boys.
As this 18 year-old woman, interviewed by researchers from the University of Bedfordshire, explains:
The way I dress and the way I make myself look has made a lot of things stop happening because I intend to make myself look like a boy, I intend to make sure boys don’t look at me cos c’mon, if a girl is walking down the street and she looks like a boy, she’s got a hood up and everything, tracksuit bottoms, what boy is gonna wanna be seen with a girl like that, c’mon.
Looking back to the London riots, Batmanghelidjh says that the only difference in the way men and women behaved was down to physical strength.
“The boys broke the shop screen with their legs and bodies. They’ve got the physicality to be able to do that. When they’d done that, the girls stepped in. There’s a physical difference between boys and girls but there’s no intentional difference. Girls are just as capable of immense brutality.”
The images we saw of kicking in shop windows, or tearing down security screens, tended to show male rioters purely because they’re the ones who had the physical strength to cause the damage. But the women weren’t far behind them.
When it comes to intention, mentally, girls are just as capable of violence or extreme violent acts as boys, Batmanghelidjh says.
Bebe Catherine was born & raised in Saint Catherine Parish. Also known as “Spanish Town”, St Catherine is a town located in the south east of Jamaica.
Born to a family of powerful gangsters, Bebe was introduced to the street lifestyle before she was born. Her mother, “Sandy” was 6 months pregnant with Bebe when she was sentenced to 6 years in Riker’s Island, New York city’s most dangerous prison on drug charges due to her alleged affiliation to one of Jamaica’s most feared criminal organizations. Sandy’s charges were later overturned and she was extradited back to her homeland of Jamaica as a condition of her release.
Bebe grew up a privileged child due to her family’s power and wealth. She was raised with the most elite & influential and attended some of the best schools the island had to offer. Though Jamaica is known for its tropical blue skies and waters, beyond the breathtaking tourist attractions brews deadly street wars in which gangs battle to control the country’s drug trades. When she was a teenager, her mother sent her to the Untied States to live with family members in hopes of protecting her from the extreme violence and dangerous conditions on the island.
As Bebe grew into adulthood the very same vices that her mother had hoped to protect her from, captivated her. She too began dating (and eventually married) an alleged high ranking member of a notorious Caribbean crime organization and had 2 children. Her story would be anything but a fairytale as her husband was later indicted on drug and gun charges in the highly publicized raids of the organization. Bebe’s husband was sentenced to 14 years for his alleged involvement with organized crime which left her to fend for herself and her children. As many wives and girlfriends of gangsters often find themselves abandoned due to the repercussions of the streets, Bebe began making her rounds by collecting on debts owed to her husband. She eventually found herself knee-deep in the game, a choice that would cost her drastically.
Eventually she was indicted on her own charges and found herself back on Riker’s Island, this time as a mother herself. After spending almost 2 years in jail she was released on one condition, that she return to Jamaica –and never return to the United States.
Since arriving back in Jamaica, Bebe has made a choice not only change her lifestyle but to shield her children from the same pitfalls both she and her mother suffered from the streets. She now works with various charitable organizations such as The Prettie Committee, which supplies women of the island with trendy clothes, shoes, accessories, food, and household items. She also spends her spare pursing what she calls her “first tru love”, writing.
Follow Bebe on Twitter:
Written By: Bailey Manhattan
The rise of the ‘gangster girl’
Camila Batmanghelidjh runs one of London’s largest children’s charities, Kids Company, which works with some 18,000 of the capital’s most vulnerable children.
A staunch critic of the Government’s lacklustre policy on gang culture, she has accused the coalition of letting thousands of London’s disturbed children live in a culture of “normalised violence”, where stabbings and shootings are commonplace and called on ministers to “wake up before its too late”.
But are girls purely victims of sexual assault in gangs, or exploited by male gang members, or is there more to it?
“Increasingly, we’re seeing girls who are developing characteristics of violence that are very similar to boys,” she tells me. “At first, the girls are victims of rape, or violators, then they join a gang and become conduits to bringing in other girls to be harmed, and younger kids. So girls are the ones who often set up a situation where a boy will get attacked, such as inviting a boy, pretending they like him, but actually they’re enticing him into a space where they’re attacked.”
Batmanghelidjh agreed that girls often start off as being at the bottom of the food chain in gangs. But once girls have effectively earned their stripes – “you’ve got to think of all this as a pathway” – they are then “seen as equal” to boy members.
“There will be girls early on in the pathway who are sexual objects and they’ll be girls further down the pathway who are even worse than boys. The pathway is a brutalisation pathway; witnessing and having to get involved in violating other girls or boys.”
In a recent report by the University of Bedfordshire on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner, researchers described the role of the ‘gangster girl’ in gangs as the only one in which young women’s status was constructed without explicit reference to their association with a male gang member.
In order to survive as a gangster girl, however, many girls and young women adopted a masculine personality and “became one of the guys”, the report says.
As this 22 year-old woman, interviewed for the report, explains:
A gangster girl goes and dresses like a man. In other words, the gold and tattoos and, you know, a tomboyish girl basically who’s willing to hold a gun when needed. One of them brave ones. Cause to be in a gang, you have to have them skills, gang skills innit… It’s how to get respect from men, if a girls in a gang. Because some men will try and have sex with her and she’s not going to know how to react, how to call it up and let them know ‘nah, it’s , we’re just in a gang, we ain’t need to be doing no sex’. So some girls have a talent to that, to say no, innit, and they will still respect them…They’ll do it cooly, they’ll make it into a joke and laugh it off with the guy ‘Out of all them sexy girls!’ like, just act like they are one of the guys. Cause for a girl to be in a gang she has to be like a man.
Much of what is written about women in gangs portrays them as victims.
A report by the Centre for Social Justice earlier this year focused on girls being trapped in gangs and living “desperate lives”, where rape is considered normal. Researchers said female members, some as young as 10, are being pressured into having sex with boys to initiate them into gangs.
The think tank warned that “too little” is being done to change the exploitation of girls and young women in gangs, despite the launch of a Home Office strategy three years ago. “The Government was right in 2011 to identify that authorities did not know enough about girls and young women associated with gangs. Yet three years later too little progress has been made,” the report said.
Some three years later, not only are we still in the dark about women’s involvement in gangs, we still tend to see girls and young women as ‘victims only’.
There is no denying that thousands of women are exploited within gangs. It is also far less likely for women to be within positions of power in gangs.
And yet there is growing evidence – and acknowledgement from within the voluntary and third sector – that girls can be just as powerful as boys in gangs.