Mexico Cartels Recruit Kids as Killers
They become hit men, cannon fodder, says report
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2013 2:54 PM CDT
A boy looks on as policemen stand guard during a raid in Coban, Guatemala, Tuesday Dec. 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

(Newser) – As if Mexico's cartels weren't bad enough, a new report explains that they're ensnaring young teens to use as killers and "cannon fodder," reports Wired. A key passage from the report (pdf), which actually takes a much broader look at the cartels in general:

  • "Mexican cartels in the last decade have recruited thousands of street gang members, school drop-outs, and unskilled workers. Many are teenagers, some barely into adolescence, such as a fourteen-year-old who said on television he had decapitated four people." (That would be Edgar Jiminez Lugo, who says he began killing at age 11.)

In many cases, it comes down to economics: The report paints a picture of closed schools and absent jobs; the cartels, however, will pay as much as nearly $1,000 a month. The young people who join up are given basic training in how to use heavy guns (they get "Uzis, AR-15s, 38s, and 9mm," says a social worker), but not much more. Barely able to shoot, the kids are treated like "cannon fodder," thrown at professional soldiers in terribly one-sided gun battles. "When you have disciplined soldiers, they are going to win in these shoot-outs," says one officer. Confirms the report, "In many of these confrontations, troops will shoot dead 10 or more attackers while suffering no casualties."