Mexican drug cartels are recruiting a steady stream of women – grandmothers, single moms and expectant mothers – to help keep weapons flowing from the U.S. to support their violent operations, reports USA Today. As the demand for weapons in Mexico has escalated in the past two years, trafficking rings have been increasingly recruiting women with clean criminal records to buy weapons for them, said J. Dewey Webb, chief of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Houston.
At least a dozen women in the past two years have surfaced in federal gun-trafficking cases as suspects or cooperating witnesses in Houston and the South Texas region, the nation’s busiest gun-trafficking corridor to Mexico. Webb said women are joining buyers eager to risk harsh criminal sanctions in the U.S. – and possible retaliation by the cartels if they fail – for a small share in the lucrative arms trade. Because convicted felons cannot legally buy weapons, women with no criminal history are used as “straw buyers” who transfer purchases to smugglers through relatives, boyfriends, and acquaintances. The women often are being paid as little as $100 per trip to buy high-powered weapons from U.S. gun dealers.