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Crime & Justice

Juarez police investigate female vengeance killer targeting bus drivers

A police sketch of the woman believed to be the main suspect in murdering bus drivers in Ciudad Juarez.
A police sketch of the woman believed to be the main suspect in murdering bus drivers in Ciudad Juarez.
Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office

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The Mexican border city of Juarez has become infamous as a place overrun by drug violence, where gruesome murders are an almost daily occurrence. However, two killings last week have captured headlines around the world.

A woman reportedly in a blonde wig or with dyed hair boarded two city buses, pulled out a pistol and shot the drivers dead. Local media outlets later received an email, claiming responsibility for the murders and proclaiming the author to be "Diana: The Hunter of Bus Drivers."

"You think because we are women we are weak, and maybe we are. But only to a certain point. ... We can longer remain quiet over these acts that fill us with rage. And so, I am an instrument who will take vengeance."

The above quote is just a small excerpt of the email, which went on to explain that the killings were retaliation for the victimization of hundreds of women who have been sexually abused or murdered in the city.

So how did Juarez become such a hotbed for violence against women? 

New York Times reporter Damian Cave tells Take Two that beginning in the 1990s, Juarez became a boomtown of factory work, with many of the jobs being filled by women. Killings and disappearances began to occur, and the situation was exacerbated when drug cartels began to take hold of the area. 

"A couple years ago it really peaked," said Cave, who has reported on about the women of Juarez for the New York Times. "Women  became just another disposable item in a city of a lot of disposable items…bodies were piling up by the hundreds." 

To get to work at the factories, a network of buses running all hours of the day and night pick up workers from their neighborhoods and bus them to work. Many of the women missing or found murdered were believed to have been last seen either on or getting on one of these buses.  

It is unclear whether drivers of these buses have had a major role in the disappearances, but Cave says that there is speculation that there have been networks of people recruiting women for prostitution. Some of these women may have been picked up by these networks and killed for a variety of reasons. 

"Bus drivers have been suspected in playing a role," said Cave. "The idea is that these women are disposable and nobody with catch them. Impunity in Mexico is just so bad, that very few people get punished for this sort of thing."

The Mexican government set up a task force focusing specifically on violence against women, but collecting evidence has been difficult. Often the evidence is old and connecting the dots between a victim and a suspect is nearly impossible. 

"There's this saying in Mexico that from the bowl to the mouth the soup falls," said Cave. "Whenever I ask people why there aren't more convictions, 'we don't really know' is often the response I get. Somewhere along the way something fell through the cracks, so as a result most of the people who are believed to be responsible for this get away with it and are never punished."

Police are still investigating whether "Diana" is acting alone or if the murders were part of a larger network. The BBC reports that undercover police in Juarez are riding buses and performing weapons searches hoping to catch "Diana" in the act.