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Testimonies of adolescents who have joined the cartels

by Yucatan Times
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Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación members describe what led them to a life in organized crime

“I had to burn some guys alive; that was my first task,” the 18-year-old said with some excitement in his voice, recalling his first assignment in a Mexican cartel.

“We were chilling out, and two hours later they brought them. We tied them up and sprayed them in gasoline and then fire; it smelled terrible,” he recounted while eating tacos and drinking Coke in downtown Morelia.

He said he was 15 when he was formally hired by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). He said he had no other path, and started as a “halcón,” or street-level cartel informants. Then he began to advance, and now he’s a full-time hitman for one of the most brutal cartels in the world.

“I enjoy killing. Sometimes, I even do it for fun,” he said, expressing no regrets over the lives he has taken.

“I’d rather not count,” he said of the total.

Born and raised in Morelia, the capital of Michoacán state, he said he doesn’t have many childhood memories – except for the cancer death of his mother, which he said makes him feel sad.

He spoke on the condition his name not be shared. The Courier Journal granted anonymity to some of the sources in this story, so they could freely speak to their experiences and what led them to life in a cartel.

His story reflects how organized crime ends up being the only option for thousands of children in marginalized areas of rural Mexico.

The Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico estimates about 35,000 youths have been recruited by organized crime in the country, and about 400,000 more are currently at risk of being recruited.

The statistic is a constantly moving target, experts say.

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