She's known as Mexico's most powerful woman, and she's currently sitting in prison. Elba Esther Gordillo was arrested on corruption charges last night after landing near Mexico City in a private plane, reports the AP. It's things like private planes that appear to be the problem: The 68-year-old heads the country's 1.5 million-member teachers' union, which the BBC describes as Latin America's most powerful union, and prosecutors accuse her of embezzling more than $150 million from its funds to fund a lavish lifestyle of planes, $17,000 of plastic surgery, and designer clothing.
- Gordillo allegedly used the funds to pay for two homes near San Diego; $2.1 million was also reportedly transferred to a Neiman Marcus account, reports the New York Times. The transactions are said to have occurred between 2008 and 2012.
- Some $2 million of union money was allegedly funneled into accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, reports the AFP.
- The AP notes that she was paid about $72,000 a year, but was known to wear $1,200 shoes and carry a $5,500 purse.
- The BBC explains that the arrest came just a day after President Enrique Peña Nieto instituted sweeping reforms designed to mend a problematic teaching system, in which positions can be inherited, dead teachers are sometimes paid, and regular assessments aren't conducted. Gordillo was seen as a key obstacle to reform.