More and more young women lured by cash, designer clothes and luxury holidays are becoming Griselda-like ‘Queenpins’ responsible for flooding the streets of Britain with drugs. 

Others are taking prominent roles in international money laundering and smuggling networks, with one 31-year-old Kim Kardashian lookalike caught flying to Dubai with £2million worth of cash stashed in suitcases.

Saleha Saed, who was jailed earlier this month, was just 18 when she wrenched control of a country lines drug smuggling operation from her former boyfriend, telling him: ‘You’re deluding yourself that the line is yours when it is truly mine.’

The gangster, now 21, caused misery and fear by recruiting youngsters to the gang that oversaw the Fat Boy line, which brought 3kg of heroin and crack from London to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

Another female drugs boss to be recently locked up is Danielle Stafford, a qualified engineer who ran a lucrative drug empire that began in 2017 when she started dealing cannabis.

The rise in Queenpins like Griselda Blanco, the Colombian cartel leader who inspired the hit Netflix series, fits in with a broader increase in the number of women becoming involved in serious crime. 

Saleha Saed was just 18 when she took over the Fat Boy line, which brought huge amounts of heroin and crack cocaine into Great Yarmouth in Norfolk

Saleha Saed was just 18 when she took over the Fat Boy line, which brought huge amounts of heroin and crack cocaine into Great Yarmouth in Norfolk 

Danielle Stafford, from Cottingham in Yorkshire, made so much money by selling drugs that she bought a second home and lived without touching any of her job salary

Danielle Stafford, from Cottingham in Yorkshire, made so much money by selling drugs that she bought a second home and lived without touching any of her job salary

Tara Hanlon, 31,  was jailed for nearly three years in July after being caught taking around £2million from the UK to Dubai

Tara Hanlon, 31,  was jailed for nearly three years in July after being caught taking around £2million from the UK to Dubai 

Netflix series Griselda tells the story of Griselda Blanco's blood-soaked rise to becoming the world's first female criminal billionaire. Sofia Vergara plays her

Netflix series Griselda tells the story of Griselda Blanco’s blood-soaked rise to becoming the world’s first female criminal billionaire. Sofia Vergara plays her 

Jaq in Top Boy, who plays a prominent role in a London drugs gang and is played by Jasmine Jobson

Jaq in Top Boy, who plays a prominent role in a London drugs gang and is played by Jasmine Jobson 

Female offenders have occupied prominent roles in a series of criminal conspiracies busted by British police in recent months – mirroring a wider trend that has seen the global female prison population surge by more than half. 

While male offenders remain far more common – especially when it comes to violent offences – criminologists say societal changes that have given women more agency in many areas of life have also made them more likely to obtain senior roles in gangs.

The 29-year-old, from Cottingham in Yorkshire, splashed her drugs cash on a second home, nine watches and three expensive Louis Vuitton handbags without even touching the salary she got from her job. 

The number of women becoming involved in crime has been rising globally over previous decades. 

Researchers at the University of London found the global female prison population surged by more than half from 2000 to 2017, while the male population went up by just a fifth. 

There are now 3,651 women in prison in England and Wales – a 10 per cent increase on the previous year and there are more than twice the number 30 years ago.

While the majority have been jailed for non-violent offences, others are responsible for more serious offending. 

This was reflected by Europol’s controversial 2019 Crime Has No Gender campaign, which sought to increase awareness of the number of female fugitives on its Most Wanted list. 

Rani (second from left), a character in Stephen Merchant's comedy outlaws, is seen getting caught up in the Bristol drugs trade.  The third series airs later this month

Rani (second from left), a character in Stephen Merchant’s comedy outlaws, is seen getting caught up in the Bristol drugs trade.  The third series airs later this month 

A leading criminologist consulted by MailOnline said dramatic changes in the role of women in society had given them more agency in many areas of life, including making them more likely to assume leadership positions in criminal networks. 

Meanwhile, Linda Sage – a criminal psychologist with decades of experience working with serious offenders in prisons – said the motivations for female criminals were similar to those for men. 

‘The role of women has changed and women think of themselves differently,’ she told MailOnline. 

‘I don’t think the motivations of serious female offenders differ greatly from men. For crimes like dealing, that includes the need to make money in a way that’s seen as quick and easy.’ 

Tara Hanlon, 31, was jailed in 2023 for nearly three years after being caught taking around £2million from the UK to Dubai as part of the crime ring that involved former boxer Joe Calzaghe’s ex.

Tara Hanlon

Hanlon

Tara Hanlon lived a luxury lifestyle in the Middle East (she’s pictured here in social media snaps) 

Footage shows Hanlon appearing in two videos where she shows off the luxury hotel she's staying in

Footage shows Hanlon appearing in two videos where she shows off the luxury hotel she's staying in

Footage shows Hanlon appearing in two videos where she shows off the luxury hotel she’s staying in

Some of the money found in Hanlon’s possession when she was stopped at Heathrow Airport

Bales of cash tied up with cable ties in a video filmed by the National Crime Agency

Bales of cash tied up with cable ties in a video filmed by the National Crime Agency 

Bragging videos  show her parading through the £500-a-night Five Palm Jumeirah hotel in Dubai and gushing ‘look at that view’. 

Videos she took showing the spoils of her smuggling could only be published after co-conspirators including Jo-Emma Larvin, 44, and Beatrice Auty, 26, were convicted last April. 

Another eye-catching case last year saw a coke-dealing granny handed a suspended sentence after she was found with £8,500 of the Class A drug hidden in her semi-detached home following a police raid.

Julie Cobley, 62, lived an enviable middle-class lifestyle in the village of Deanshanger in Northamptonshire, funded by the little wraps of white powder she would dispense from the doorstep of her £400,000 home.

It then emerged that Ms Cobley had been leaving packages of drugs by her bins and in small bags taped just inside her letter box for her clients to collect, dropping off notes of cash in exchange.

A court heard how neighbours in the quiet, leafy street initially took Ms Cobley at face value but, eventually, at least one grew suspicious at the constant stream of visitors who would turn up at any time of night and approach her house – but never rang the bell or went in. 

Danielle Stafford, who enjoyed a life of luxury with Louis Vuitton handbags and lavish foreign holidays by running a cannabis and cocaine-dealing operation

Danielle Stafford, who enjoyed a life of luxury with Louis Vuitton handbags and lavish foreign holidays by running a cannabis and cocaine-dealing operation

The qualified engineer tried to pretend that she was merely the victim of a shadowy Liverpool drug dealer but she could give no evidence of that

The qualified engineer tried to pretend that she was merely the victim of a shadowy Liverpool drug dealer but she could give no evidence of that 

The drug dealer enjoyed expensive treats including luxury holidays and meals out

The drug dealer enjoyed expensive treats including luxury holidays and meals out  

Coleen Campbell, 38, was convicted of manslaughter after plotting to have her former partner Thomas Campbell robbed of cash and drugs in his own home

Coleen Campbell, 38, was convicted of manslaughter after plotting to have her former partner Thomas Campbell robbed of cash and drugs in his own home

Georgia Burns, 22, who was involved in her boyfriend's county lines dealing racket that used three 16-year-old schoolboys as 'slaves'

Georgia Burns, 22, who was involved in her boyfriend’s county lines dealing racket that used three 16-year-old schoolboys as ‘slaves’ 

Other women play an active role in criminal conspiracies headed by their husbands. 

These include 38-year-old Coleen Campbell, who helped thugs torture her ex-husband to death; and Georgia Burns, 22, who was involved in her boyfriend’s county lines dealing racket that used three 16-year-old schoolboys as ‘slaves’. 

Campbell was was found guilty of manslaughter with conspiracy to rob and was jailed for 13 years in 2023, while Burns received a suspended sentence. 

Recruitment specialist Pavandeep Nijjar, 29, was also spared jail for peddling cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine for her gangster boyfriend. 

In February she was handed a two year jail sentence suspended for 23 months.

Netflix series Griselda tells the story of Griselda Blanco’s blood-soaked rise to becoming the world’s first female criminal billionaire. 

Having been plunged into the cocaine industry by her second husband, who she later killed, Griselda built a thriving drugs empire that saw her earning more than a staggering $80million every month.

She was eventually found guilty of drugs charges in 1985 and incarcerated, but was able to continue running her empire from behind bars. 

However, the conviction spurred authorities to attempt to press additional charges against the career criminal – including more than 200 murders. 

Recruitment specialist Pavandeep Nijjar, 29, was also spared jail for peddling cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine for her gangster boyfriend

Recruitment specialist Pavandeep Nijjar, 29, was also spared jail for peddling cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine for her gangster boyfriend 

Another eye-catching case last year saw drug-dealing granny Julie Cobley handed a suspended sentence after she was found with £8,500 of cocaine

Another eye-catching case last year saw drug-dealing granny Julie Cobley handed a suspended sentence after she was found with £8,500 of cocaine  

Kayleeanne Sweeney was the girlfriend of Liverpool gangster Thomas Cashman, who murdered nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel

Kayleeanne Sweeney was the girlfriend of Liverpool gangster Thomas Cashman, who murdered nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel 

By 1994, one of her former hitmen – Jorge Ayala – agreed to testify against her and Griselda was charged with three murders.

One of them was that of a two-year-old boy who was fatally shot during a failed assassination attempt of his father – who was one of Griselda’s former enforcers.

The investigation stalled but the drug baron decided to plead guilty in 1998 in a bid to reduce her sentence.

Following her release after 10 years in prison, she was deported to Colombia where she is said to have ‘retired’ from her life of crime.

But it appeared her past caught up with her and, in 2012, Griselda was shot and killed as she stepped out of a butcher shop in Medellin aged 69.

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