Friday, December 30, 2011

Drug Cartels Target Young People

Mexican drug cartels, in a disturbing new trend, are luring young people from Southern California to smuggle drugs across the border and carry out other illicit work for the criminal enterprises, according to law enforcement officials and youth activists.

The result: More than 5,000 young people, most of them Latinos, have been held in San Diego County jails over the last two years, according to KPBS San Diego.

Many of the young people were involved in street gangs, making them easier to recruit, and the crimes that landed them behind bars included assaults, robbery, drug trafficking or consumption. Their proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border made it easier for them to fall prey to the advances of the Mexican drug cartels.

Many times, children as young as 11 years old, who are referred to as the "The expendables," according to The National Post, are recruited to smuggle drugs across the border because it is believed they'll attract less law enforcement attention than adults.

Children can earn up to $400 per trip smuggling drugs across the border, according to Pedro RĂ­os, an activist with the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee. He added that young people also are recruited by human traffickers to escort undocumented immigrants from the border to safe houses.

A report by the The Children's Rights Network in Mexico estimates that 30,000 Mexicans under the age of 18 are in the employ of Mexico's numerous drug cartels.


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