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The high mortality rate in Mexico's drug war has seen women progress quickly in the shadowy underworld of the cartels and they are increasingly taking on key management roles, a new book says.
"Female Bosses of Narco-Traffic," by Arturo Santamaria, a researcher at the Autonomous University of the State of Sinaloa, traces the ascent of women in drug trafficking organizations.
"The narco-traffickers will become stronger as a result of this," wrote Santamaria. "They will be more difficult to fight because the women appear to be acting smarter."
An estimated 50,000 people have been killed since 2006 in a government crackdown on organized crime that has set off turf wars among rival groups even as they fight off the Mexican military's counter-narcotics units.
Santamaria said the dead have been mainly males belonging to the cartels, which has led to a changing of the guard with younger men and women rising to the top of drug trafficking organizations.
"Widows, daughters, lovers and girlfriends of the men, who are part of the same criminal families," have had to lend a hand, he said.