Fewer things in life are sexier than a woman who knows how to handle a gun. Even fewer things in life are sexier than having to take orders from that same woman. What job is this, exactly? The job of an underling to a female crime boss, or ‘godmother.’ As you’ll see, women are far from a joke in the underworld. Whoever said crime was a man’s game was either a misogynist pig, or just never heard of the ladies on this list. Just because they’re women, doesn’t mean their balls aren’t still bigger than yours.
Crime syndicates rank just behind wine coolers and snakes that can’t kill you as things you’d least likely associate with the country of Australia. This, however, doesn’t mean that organizations like the Moran Family can’t turn gangland every once in a while and turn Melbourne into Dodge City.
Standing at the shadowy helm of the Moran family is 66-year-old Judy Moran. She’s described as the “family matriarch,” an ambiguous term which could imply her responsibilities range from either baking a fresh batch of cookies for her soldiers after a hard day’s worth of drive-bys, or ordering the drive-bys herself. Seeing as how she’s currently incarcerated for being an accessory to her brother-in-law’s murder, we’ll assume it’s most likely the latter.
Status: Incarcerated, 2009—present.
Nearly a year ago, the Chinese city of Chongqing unleashed a crackdown on organized crime, a massive operation that nabbed nearly 1,500 suspects. At the head of it all, the crown jewel, was Xie Caiping. We don’t know what the definition of original gangster is in China, but if it doesn’t include bribing city officials, beating up cops and allegedly having a stable of man-hos 16-strong, than the Chinese have bigger cultural problems than organized crime.
As the boss, Caiping ran a string of illegal casinos and was responsible for keeping the police off everyone’s back. Let’s just say she was good at her job. How good? Also arrested during the crackdown was Chongqing’s deputy police chief, her brother-in-law.
Status: Incarcerated, 2009—present.
Sandra Avila Beltran
With a nickname like “Queen of the Pacific,” it’s hard not to imagine Sandra Beltran hovering somewhere over an ocean this very second on a Jabba the Hutt-style sail barge with Trident in one hand and the Little Mermaid’s hollowed-out skull in the other.
Long story short, Beltran was born and bred to be a Mexican godmother. Hell, her uncle is the guy many people consider the godfather of Mexican drug smuggling. She got her moniker through facilitating relations between Colombia’s Valle del Norte cartel and her own country’s Sinaloa cartel, and helping both develop smuggling routes along Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Looking at her mug shot, it’s easy to see why she might have been so persuasive.
Status: Incarcerated, 2007—present. Currently facing charges of organized crime, money laundering and conspiracy to traffic drugs.
Rosetta Cutolo one-upped every other kind, caring sister who’s had a brother go to jail and simply mourned about it by taking over her brother’s business when he got cuffed. She’s on this list because her brother happens to be Raffaele Cutolo—head of the Nuova Camorra Organizzata (NCO), which in the early 80s was considered one of the most powerful crime families in Italy.
While her brother was behind bars, Cutolo became the family underboss, both relaying his orders and personally negotiating drug deals with South American kingpins and participating in high-level sit-downs with Sicilian outfits.
Status: Incarcerated, 1993—present. After the Italian police raided her headquarters in 1981, she spent 10 years as a fugitive until finally surrendering.
From 1993 to 2001, Maria Licciardi was the head of the Licciardi clan, and “Capo di Tutti Capi” of the greater Naples underworld. That means “boss of bosses” for those of you scoring at home. She rose to that rank after two of her brothers and her husband were arrested. Under her guide, the Licciardi family became more organized, and more lucrative in all their ventures.
Perhaps her most important contribution, though, is introducing prostitution to the Camorra. Before that, some sort of code existed that forbade greasy, amoral mobsters from making money off of prostitution. Weird, right? It might seem contradictory to think of a woman as being the one to break down the prostitution barrier. But as Mary Wollstonecraft once said, when you’re the boss, everybody is equally your bitch.
Status: Incarcerated, 2001—present, but don’t think for a second she doesn’t still run shit from behind bars.
A 44-year-old mother with 13 kids sounds like one of those harmless, old-timey redneck caricatures we’ve all been warned about, via cartoons. They’re mostly harmless, except for maybe the self-inflicting damage they’ve done to their vaginas.
Maria Leon maybe single-handedly squashed the innocence of that archetype by having 13(!) kids and being the leader of a trans-U.S.-Mexico drug-dealing and human-smuggling operation that for a long time turned parts of Northeast L.A. into Beirut. Assuming narco-trafficking is a business that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, 13 is an impressive number, even for somebody who doesn’t orchestrate murders in between nap time and play time.
Status: Incarcerated, 2010—present. Awaiting trial on numerous drug charges.
Let’s start with this little nugget. When Griselda Blanco was 11, she kidnapped and tried to ransom another kid who was from a wealthy family who lived in a rich part of Medellin. When the family wouldn’t pay, she shot the boy. We’ll just go ahead and assume the movie City of God was based on her childhood.
After moving to New York from Colombia in the ’70s and starting her career in drug smuggling, Blanco moved to Miami to escape an indictment. It was there that she laid the groundwork for Miami to become the cocaine capital of the U.S. Never much for subtlety, or negotiation, Blanco is believed to have masterminded over 200 murders during her tenure, including (most likely) all three of her husband’s.
Historians have since deemed her behavior during her stay in Miami as “sociopathic,” and “ruthless,” which is undoubtedly a nice way of saying THAT BITCH CRAZY.
Status: Unknown. In 1988, she was arrested by the DEA in California and spent 16 years in prison. When she was released in 2004, she was deported back to Colombia and hasn’t been seen since. FYI, if you see this face, run: