Unspeakable Times

12 Female Crime Lords Who Reigned Over Empires with an Iron Fist  

Lea Rose Emery
37.9k views 12 items

While most drug lords you've heard of are likely men, there are a number of women who have filled this role with an equal amount of authority and ruthlessness. Maybe it's because they need to stand out and be respected in a male-dominated arena, but when a woman is in charge of a crime syndicate, she is unflinchingly cruel. These women can certainly run with the big boys. 

The brutal organizations run by these women are involved in everything, including drug trafficking, countless murders, shootings, bootlegging, prostitution, and even bombing an attorney general's office. When crossed, these women, who had access to endless weaponry, power, and cash, retaliated with no mercy. 

Griselda Blanco
Griselda Blanco is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Female Crime Lords Who Reigned Over Empires with an Iron Fist
Photo:  Orange County Sheriff's Office/Fair Use

Griselda Blanco, also known as "The Cocaine Godmother," grew up in the Colombian slums, working her way up the crime ladder, first as a prostitute and pickpocket. It didn't take her long to make her first kill - she was rumored to have committed her first murder at the age of 11. It was the first of many. 

Blanco was thought to have run a coke ring that moved 3,400 pounds of product a month, but her murder rate was equally as prolific. Low estimates suggest that she was behind 40 to 50 murders, but some estimates go as high as 200. She was only convicted of three murders, but spent 13 years in federal prison for drug charges. 

Her lovers and husbands were often among her victims, thus, she was also nicknamed the "Black Widow." 

Stephanie St. Clair

Known as Queenie or Madame St. Claire, Stephanie St. Claire, started her own numbers racket in 1923 and was soon making over a quarter of a million a year - a substantial amount of money in those days. 

Aside from partaking in the illegal activity of racketeering, St. Claire was very supportive of her community, regularly publishing newspaper ads to educate community members about their rights, agitate for voting rights, and argue against police brutality, even getting corrupt cops fired. When the mob tried to move in on her uptown territory during the depression, she had those sent to intimidate her "taken care of," then tipped off the police about mob businesses and had their storefronts attacked. She then took out newspaper ads bragging to the mob about what she'd done and daring them to stop her. In reference to her arch-rival, she said, “I’m not afraid of Dutch Schultz or any other man living. He’ll never touch me.”

When her nemesis Schultz was eventually assassinated with a shot in the stomach, she promptly sent a telegraph to his deathbed that read “So You Sow - So Shall Ye Reap," signed “Madam Queen of Policy.” 

Marllory Dadiana Chacon Rossel

Guatemalan drug lord and "Queen of the South," Marllory Dadiana Chacon Rossel was eventually jailed after she surrendered. But, that was only after an extensive life of crime. 

Her organization supplied cocaine to Mexican drug cartels including Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, and  laundered tens of millions of dollars a month. The US Treasury named her husband as an accomplice, but there was no denying that Rossel was the one in charge. Authorities classified her as “the most active money launderer in Guatemala,” and as one of the most prolific drug traffickers in all of Central America.

She eventually surrendered and has been working with the DEA and the US Attorney's Office in Florida since 2012, providing information in exchange for the authorities agreeing to keep her sentence and release date secret for five years, to protect herself from rivals. 

Charmaine Roman

Drug lord Charmaine Roman used a concert promotion business as a front for her illegal activity very successfully for a time. She was the head of a violent Jamaican drug ring, responsible for bringing thousands of pounds of marijuana into Florida. It took years of surveillance for the police to finally catch her with a 400-pound shipment, eventually seizing over 3,000 pounds of marijuana; $200,000; 15 guns; and several cars. 

She was also found with various passports and ID cards with many different identities. Besides being a drug kingpin, she had a love of lottery scratch cards, reportedly winning almost $200,000.