Whoever said drug trafficking was a man’s game probably never met Ana Marie Hernández.
Hernández, also known as "La Muñeca," or "The Doll," is allegedly a ranking member of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's network and is wanted in the U.S. for purportedly running a cocaine smuggling operation that brought drugs through Texas and to places as far reaching as Florida and Illinois. She was recently captured in the Mexican state of Chihuahua after being on the run from American and Mexican authorities for about two years.
She is expected to be extradited to the U.S.
Authorities say that the leggy 38-year-old used a mix of her sex appeal and wit to ingratiate herself with the Sinaloa Cartel, following the demise of her previous bosses in the Juárez Cartel. Before being hit with drug smuggling and bribery charges in 2013 in El Paso, "La Muñeca" and her ex-husband Daniel Ledesma are believed to have smuggled thousands of kilograms of cocaine through an El Paso border crossing where he worked, and shipped them to Chicago, St. Louis and Panama City, Florida.
"Beautiful women are highly coveted by the cartel leaders, they bring them into the fold and a lot of times have relationships with them," Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, told mySA.com. "[The cartels] use them because they have the ability to infiltrate the United States and develop ties and distribution tentacles here."
Vigil added that he believes Hernández had some sort of relationship with "El Chapo," given that she worked her way up through the ranks of the Sinaloa Cartel and also given the drug lord’s love of gorgeous women.
"One thing we know about Chapo Guzmán is his love of beautiful women," he said.
Hernández’s arrest and expected extradition, however, could be a result of Guzmán’s escape from a high security prison and the crackdown on cartel leaders that followed, as Mexico tries save face following the prison break.
"The Mexican government is using these extraditions to keep pressure of their back until they are able to capture 'El Chapo,'" Vigil said. "[His escape] was a significant embarrassment."
In September, Mexico extradited former Beltrán Leyva Cartel member Edgar Valdez Villareal, known as "La Barbie," and 12 other people to the U.S. to face charges.
"You can safely say that choosing this moment to extradite these men is a direct consequence of Chapo's escape," José Reveles, the author of numerous books on the drug war, told Fox News Latino.
"[President Enrique] Peña Nieto's government was widely ridiculed over it," he added. "Chapo was captured with American assistance [in February 2014] and was handed to us on a silver platter."
"U.S.'s anger over his flight pressured the Mexican government into reconsidering its extradition policy," he noted.