Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Children in Mexico: Criminals or victims?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 |



By Tania L. Montalvo, CNNMexico.com

At least 30,000 children in Mexico are involved in some sort of organized crime, according to a nationwide alliance of civic and social organizations.

The Child Rights Network in Mexico says many of these children are taking part because of death threats or because of economic and social necessity. It is urging the government to start recognizing them as victims of child abuse.

"The drug cartels are not training them to be ringleaders," spokeswoman Veronica Morales said. "It is a new form of abuse in which they are being used to commit an offense, to violate the law and to deceive authorities."

In the past year, there have been numerous headlines of children being arrested in Mexico.

Perhaps the most high-profile case involved a 14-year-old boy known as "El Ponchis" ("The Cloak"). He was found guilty of torturing and beheading at least four people for the South Pacific drug cartel.

A month after the boy was sentenced to three years in a correctional facility, a 13-year-old girl was captured in the state of Jalisco and accused of being part of the Zetas drug cartel.

Authorities said the girl was receiving 8,000 pesos a month -- almost $800 -- for being a lookout. She would let gang members know who was entering and who was leaving Luis Moya, a municipality in north-central Mexico.

n January of last year, a 15-year-old boy was captured in Jiutepec, just outside of Mexico City. During an impromptu news conference on the street, the child confessed that he was a lookout for the South Pacific cartel. He said he was collaborating with the cartel because of death threats.

Children are easy prey for organized crime because they lack opportunities, said José Luis Cisneros, a sociologist at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City.

"Socially, (the children) see the violence as the only way to make people respect them -- and as a way to exercise certain power, something that has been denied to their families," Cisneros said.

While the Child Rights Network in Mexico said it has documented at least 30,000 kids involved in some criminal group, the Mexican government said it has not.

According to the Agence Presse-France, the government told the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child that it doesn't have information about minors involved in criminal or armed groups.

A legal gap for children?

Civil organizations in Mexico also said law enforcement officials are violating children's rights when they make arrests.

The Child Rights Network in Mexico said it is common for many child suspects -- like the 14-year-old assassin and the 15-year-old boy in Jiutepec -- to be presented to the media without respect for their privacy or their presumption of innocence.

"A youth criminal justice law does not exist," Morales said. "There is a proposal in review in the Congress, but even that one has significant omissions.

"The (United Nations) Convention (on the Rights of the Child) points out that the children have to be treated and not necessarily imprisoned after having committed a crime."

Arturo Argente, director of the law faculty at the Monterrey Institute of Technology of Higher Education (Toluca Campus), agrees that Mexican authorities must protect a child's identity and guarantee that a process will follow "from a child-abuse angle, as a kid who has been working at an illegal business." In addition to that, he said, the children must receive psychological treatment and be taught to respect the law.

Morales is calling for a comprehensive law that would "give attention to the kids" with specialized courts, judges, lawyers and specialists.

"When there is a child involved in some organized crime act, there is never a suitable investigation," she said. "The authorities justify that it is a drug-trafficking crime and it is treated as a regular case."

Experts note that arrested children are not the only young people affected by organized crime.

In the past five years, from December 2006 to December 2011, at least 1,188 children have died because of armed clashes, according to the Child Rights Network in Mexico. That represents about 2.5% of the estimated 47,515 drug-related deaths over the last five years reported by Mexican authorities.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child confirmed that up until 2010, 1,000 children had died in acts linked to organized crime.

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16 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Children my ass,they are responsible and need to be removed,the birth rate in Mexico, could replace them with useful people instead of usless people.

Anonymous said...

They are victims up to a point. A lookout maybe, but once you kill someone, you need to be destroyed. To give these children a chance would require more social services than Mexico possesses. At some point its important to protect society as a whole

Anonymous said...

In the U.S there were about 13 in 2011 murders committed by children under 13 years old, 11 in 2010 and 11 in 2009.

I wonder what they do with this baby killers.

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/16/boy-allegedly-stabbed-another-boy/?page=1#article

Anonymous said...

8:47 PM...With your logic, our returning veterans that have killed someone should be destroyed. What in the hell are you thinking? Do you have any idea what it would be like growing up as a child in Mexico in situations where they may have no parents, no support, no supervision, no protection? Your statement makes me sick. You obviously have no children, and do not understand their minds. When basic needs are not met, they have to do whatever it takes to get them. If peer pressure from gangs comes, they join to survive. If they are forced into a corner and using or selling their body is the only out, they do it. And they learn survival. Drop the stupid statements, especially about children. I know through history, there has been times and movements that thought destroying idiots would make the world a better place and it might. But then you wouldn't be here would you?

Anonymous said...

Always, always the whining about human rights. These fucking kids are killers - they knew that going into it - fucking pop them all as a lesson to the wannabes.

Anonymous said...

how can you correct and reintigrate a 14 year old head chopping monster back into society?? what can they contribute?

Anonymous said...

Mexico should do what we do here in the uS. Mexico can build community centers, basketball courts and playground around every corner in the cities. That would give this kids other things to do other than slinging dope and killing people.

signed by (sincerely sarcastic) :)
I have no real answer for them. I haven't seen anything work here in the uS other than teaching them right at home. Good Values, respect for authority and others. Charity towards others. And making sure your kids have the right friends. You do this by meeting the kids parents.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the children are victims since all children are a product of the environment.

However, since the environment from which the children in this case stem clearly can not cope with them, they must be removed from society.

How to prevent more of this from happening? The alternatives are: fear or education.

Until now fear has been the choosen method but judging by the explosion in violence in Mexico (all of LatAm) it is quite obvious that it is not working. Hence, either there is not enough fear or fear is the wrong way.

Anonymous said...

Returning veterans..stfu with your lame ass attempt at justify your ridiculous point you pansy.

Brian said...

"The past generation saw corruption and impunity as normal, now there is a generation that sees violence as normal.” 

El Infierno

Anonymous said...

I'd be weary with regards to categorizing these individuals as "children!" To me a 14 thru 17 year old is capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong! There is absolutely no excuse for these teenagers to be participating in horrific murders! We are not talking about petty thefts here but fucking murder with sadistic methods! IMO..once they have crossed that line there is no way they can return to normal!

Anonymous said...

Para todos los que hablan kk de mexico y viven en usa les dire que algunos de ellos ya tienen hijos criminales asi es que no hablen shiett acerca de los jovenes mexicanos, saben como se entra a una ganga en usa?? Disparando o matando a inocentes y saben la edad promedio de estas jovenes alimanas? Betwen 11-13 years, asi que estas notas no deben de comentarlas.....

Anonymous said...

and I'm sure the number of child killers in Mexico is astronomically higher. what is your point other then to needlessly inject the US in the convo?

the US justice system is not perfect but Mexico can learn something

Anonymous said...

January 18, 2012 4:06 PM Well of course we have learn something, all the drug dealing and drug violence started in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

January 19, 2012 12:35 AM
if you believe that you are truly delusional. the drug violence in Mexico is on another level. shit you guys outsource drug violence. look at the violence MEXICAN drug gangs have brought to Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and the US. also, the cartels didn't learn how to kidnap, extort, decapitate, torture, or make their money from any drug dealers in the US. these guys are Product of Mexico

Anonymous said...

This is not the first child murderer in Mexico’s history...how has Mexico previously dealt with it’s murderous children (both past & present), what systems are currently in place to assist them, and why is this info not placed in this report? Lazy reporting that’s why!!

This entire article appears designed to create sensationalism, and is also called irresponsible journalism from Borderland’s end.

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