This Woman Just Replaced El Chapo as the DEA’s Top Target

Paging Sean Penn.

Drug Enforcement Administration

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Many questions remain now that Joaquín Guzmán Loera—better known as “El Chapo”—has been recaptured. Will he be extradited to the US? What role did US forces play in his recapture? What exactly was Sean Penn’s involvement?

But, as El Chapo himself told Penn in the Rolling Stone interview, the international drug trade will keep right on chugging along without him. “The day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all,” he said.

Chapo isn’t wrong about that. There are plenty of others in the world of illegal drugs to keep law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) busy. One of them is Maria Teresa Osorio De Serna, a Colombian woman who has replaced El Chapo at the top of the DEA’s most wanted international fugitives list. According to the DEA, Osorio De Serna is wanted in connection with money laundering and “cocaine conspiracy.”

As reported by BBC Mundo on Monday, very little is known about the woman, described as “practically a ghost,” whose aliases include Maria Teresa Correa, Gloria Bedoya, and Iris Conde. Osorio De Serna apparently hasn’t been charged with any crimes in her native Colombia, but is wanted in the US in connection for her alleged work with the Medellín Cartel, the cocaine empire headed by Pablo Escobar until he was killed in a shootout with authorities (and perhaps other traffickers) in December 1993. Osorio De Serna, allegedly laundered cocaine trafficking proceeds for the cartel, but the nature of her involvement remains as unclear as her whereabouts. She may be in Colombia, but other information suggests she was last known to live outside of Miami, Fla.

The DEA public affairs office did not respond to questions about her.

According to a BBC Mundo source—who “deeply knows the judicial and criminal world of Colombia”— Osorio De Serna isn’t well known. “It’s surprising that in this country,where the criminals all know each other, nobody knows who this woman is,” he said.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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