The Daily Beast has an interesting piece on the history of female gang members, who were considered outsiders in gangster culture until the 1970s.
The news peg is that Los Angeles prosecutors think 37-year-old Vianna Roman is 'is the de facto leader of a deadly South Los Angeles street gang called the Harpys and controlled by her father, Danny Roman, from his perch at California's Pelican Bay State Prison." Intense. She was recently arrested along with her husband, and pleaded not guilty to racketeering and conspiracy-to-commit-murder charges.
Rene "Boxer" Enriquez, author of the book Mexican Mafia Encyclopedia and a former mafioso himself, explained the role women like Roman have played historically :
However, by the 1970s, La Eme considered creating a female faction of the crime enterprise that would be called carnales (Spanish slang for sisters). "The idea was to ‘make' qualified women, but limit their roles to providing housing for paroled members, selling drugs, and setting up prospective victims," Enriquez writes in Mexican Mafia Encyclopedia.
Since then, Enriquez says that women have been utilized more and given distinct titles and job descriptions. The secretarias, for example, are considered low-level workers and are used to procure burnout phone numbers that could be used to make collect calls between gang members before the phone company gets wind of the scam and closes down the service.
"Female facilitators," who usually are dating a gang member or Mexican Mafia member, maintain low-level roles as well, says Enriquez. Their main function is to provide mail and relay messages to inmates, place or remove money from an inmate's account, and when the secretarias are not available, establish a phone line for communication between gang members and assist in limited criminal endeavors.
Señoras, on the other hand, are usually the wives and girlfriends of Mexican Mafia members and play a much more crucial role in the system by relaying sensitive information to street crews and other members.
In the 90s, wives and girlfriends became "invaluable" members of the Mexican Mafia, according to Enriquez, because so many members were under close watch but women were rarely considered suspects. Now, law enforcement officials have "wised up" to the fact that women can be gang members, too.
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