Latin American women play a key role in the international cocaine business as couriers or mules. Beginning from theoretical perspectives that explain the relationship between criminality and gender, we analyze why women without a criminal background become criminals, how they become involved in trafficking, their positions and functions in the criminal organization, and the risks and benefits of their participation. Qualitative fieldwork was carried out based on in-depth interviews with fifty-one female inmates and twenty members of prison staff from nine Spanish prisons. A thematic analysis has been carried out based on this data. The results reveal that the prevalent profile among Latin women traffickers is that of heads of household. There is a relationship between their social and geographical contexts of origin and cocaine trafficking, which determines their criminal behavior. They occupy the most exposed and lowest-paid positions in the criminal structure. We found through their discourses, how they are recruited, how they transport cocaine and the money they obtain. We conclude that cocaine trafficking is a resource that women use to escape situations of exclusion and that allows them to avoid other options, such as prostitution and migration. Despite the risks of trafficking, the economic benefits they obtain from it leads them to commit the crime.
Castillo-Algarra, Joaquina and Ruiz-García, Marta
"From Housewives and Mothers to Mules: The Case of Latin American Women Prisoners in Spain,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss1/5