Beauty and the Blow.

Laura Elena Zuniga Huizar, 23, taking home the crown at the Nuestra Belleza Sinaloa 2008 in July.Zuniga Huizar after her arrest in December.

As these photos, above, demonstrate, Mexican beauty contest winner Laura Elena Zuniga Huizar, 23, doesn’t flash her terawatt smile in all of her pictures. That’s Zuniga, atop, beaming broadly, after taking home the crown at the Nuestra Belleza Sinaloa (“Our Sinaloa Beauty”) 2008 contest in July.

But that’s also Zuniga, directly above, moments after her December arrest, in what the Associated Press called a “gun-filled truck,” one of two rolling in lockstep, weighted down with “a large stash of weapons, including two AR-15 assault rifles, 38 specials, 9mm handguns, nine magazines, 633 cartridges and $53,300 in U.S. currency.” (Seven alleged gunmen were also captured in the sting.)

Zuniga told police that she was planning on traveling to Bolivia and Colombia with the men to go shopping, [Jalisco state police director, Francisco Alejandro] Solorio said.

A true ride-or-die chick.

Zuniga is from the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, the home of the powerful cartel of the same name. It was not immediately known whether Zuniga and the men were being investigated for drug ties.

The bloodchilling Reuters article, “High-risk riches for Mexico’s ‘narco wives,’” and the slide show from the English edition of Welt Online, the German newspaper Die Welt‘s web site, tell how

Each year, dozens compete in beauty pageants in the sun-baked hills of Sinaloa state where their legendary good looks draw wealthy drug traffickers who will sometimes pluck one out and spirit her off to a mountain hide-out.

Dime piece.As all over the world, drug dealers want the prettiest dimes, and the dimes want a way out of the gutter.

Career prospects are few for Sinaloan girls, and landing a prominent drug trafficker means entering a world of untold riches — luxury mansions, SUVs, endless spa sessions and a closet full of the priciest labels on the planet.

It’s all incredible fun, buying expensive clothes and jewelry with drug money, right, until the federales find you on one of your shopping trips.

Or worse.

With her husky voice and fair skin, another Sinaloa beauty, Zulema Yulia Hernandez, won the attentions of top drug lord Joaquin “Shorty“ Guzman when they were in jail in the 1990s.

Once out, she lived a glamorous life working for his Sinaloa cartel, but it ended horribly in December when she was suffocated, shot and dumped in a car near Mexico City. The “Z”s sliced into her [breasts, belly and buttocks] and smeared with black ink suggest her murder was an attack by the rival Gulf cartel’s “Zetas“ hitmen.

“It’s more dangerous than before to be around these people because they are out of the control of their bosses,“ said a newspaper editor in Culiacan who asked not be quoted by name.

“For years there were codes. The family was respected. But they’re being broken. Last year we saw many more women die.”

With Nuestra Belleza Sinaloa 2009 mere months away, let’s see who’ll be taking home this year’s prize.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 Lena L. West on 02.19.09 at 2:18 pm

It’s easy to get caught up in being a “dime”, but ultimately, you have to want more for your life than that – even if it means you spend your life alone.

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