Mexico’s most prolific female assassin has confessed to murdering 20 people. Maria Jimenez, aka La Tosca, was arrested last week in the northern city of Monterrey for her deadly role in the feared Los Zetas drug cartel. The 26-year-old widow, who has reportedly confessed to the killings and several other crimes, was paid $1,700 per month.
She gunned down rival drug traffickers and a police officer – and was detained alongside three male assassins.
Five other men and women, accused of working as drug dealers and look-outs, were also arrested. Their gang allegedly controlled 14 drug selling hotspots in Monterrey’s metropolitan area.
Once touted as Latin America’s safest city, the industrial hub has been plagued by gang-related violence.
The Zetas are battling their rivals in the Gulf Cartel for control of drug distribution and other criminal rackets.
Nuevo Leon state prosecutor spokesman Jorge Domene said Jimenez would be charged with murder, car theft and kidnapping.
There have been more than 50,000 drug-related killings in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006. He launched a national offensive against the cartels soon after.
The suspected male assassins arrested were Raúl Hernán Martínez Muñoz, 20; Adalberto Urbina Rodríguez, aka The Pipen, 18; and Miguel Ángel Salas Valdez, aka Micky, 26.
Those detained for alleged drug dealing were Julia Alcántar Briceño, 49; Perla Cecilia Hernández Alcántar, 18, and Virginia Elizabeth Galván Alcántar, 30.
The arrests come just days after 23 people were found hanging from a bridge or decapitated and dumped along the border city of Nuevo Laredo.
Jimenez’s drug cartel Las Zetas has been fighting a bloody and escalating turf war in the area.
Authorities found nine of the victims, including four women, hanging from an overpass leading to a main highway.
Hours later, police found 14 human heads inside coolers outside city hall along with a threatening note.