Deborah Bonello

Deborah Bonello has been the bureau chief for Vice World News Latin America since August 2020. She has been based in the region, from Mexico City, since 2007 and reported on organized crime extensively, from covering criminal syndicates and markets, particularly the drug trade, as well as the violence and culture connected to the crime world. Before joining VICE full time, Deborah was a contributor to the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC, the Financial Times, the Telegraph and others. She also worked as a senior investigator and project manager for the InSight Crime think tank, which is dedicated to studying organized crime in the Americas. As a female reporter focused on a topic overwhelmingly covered by male journalists, she brings a very rare, gendered perspective to coverage of organized crime. From the rise of the female protagonists that she follows, to their experiences at the hands of the justice system, her work adds a new hue to an industry whose history has largely been written by men.

Reporting Locations


| Deborah Bonello

Women Are Rising to Power in the Legendary Sinaloa Cartel

The drug trafficking empire founded by El Chapo is seeing more women bosses in its ranks. CULIACAN, Mexico — Emma Coronel first learned to fire a gun when her husband, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, was…

| Deborah Bonello

The ‘El Chapo’ of Guatemala Is a Woman

Marixa and her sister Mayra turned local politics into a blood sport on the Guatemala–El Salvador border. CIUDAD PEDRO DE ALVARADO, Guatemala — With local elections just months away, Mayra Lemus sat down for lunch…

| Deborah Bonello

How a Single Mom Became the Boss of Guatemala’s Drug Lords

Three women worked together to run cocaine from Colombia to the United States. ZACAPA, Guatemala — Sebastiana Cottón Vásquez had walked into the house of her own accord, accompanied by some of her closest allies.…

| Deborah Bonello

Digna Valle was the first of her drug trafficking clan to be arrested, and she helped bring down her own organization.

EL ESPIRITU, Honduras — The tiny town of El Espiritu sits at the end of a long, red dirt road, nestled in the lush mountains of northwest Honduras. Home to Digna Asusena Valle, a 60-year-old drug…

| Deborah Bonello

Las Patronas: The Secret History of Latin America’s Female Cartel Bosses

You can find the full multimedia story at VICE. VICE World News presents the untold stories of the women narcos who became some of Latin America’s most feared—and respected—crime bosses.       MEXICO CITY,…