HomeNewsBrief12-Year-Old ‘Assassin’: Youth Involvement in Mexico’s Conflict
BRIEF

12-Year-Old ‘Assassin’: Youth Involvement in Mexico’s Conflict

MEXICO / 4 FEB 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

A Mexican boy, speaking at a community tribunal, recounted his gang experience in the country’s Guerrero state, just one example of Mexican youth’s vulnerability to involvement in violent organized crime.

Speaking at a February 1 tribunal in which 54 people accused of involvement in organized crime were tried by community members, a 12-year-old youth spoke about the childhood in which he was trained as an assassin by local gangs in the state capital Chilpancingo, La Jornada reported

The boy, whose grandmother reportedly turned him over to community police, told an audience of over 1,000 people that he had witnessed these gangs torture and kill their victims, cutting off fingers, toes, limbs, and heads. He said he was initially attracted to the promise of easy money, but after witnessing the gangs’ disturbing tactics, wished to end his involvement. 

The extra-judicial tribunal was organized by 69 communities in the “Costa Chica” area of Guerrero, on Mexico’s south Pacific coast, following the arrest of the suspects by the area’s controversial self-defense forces in early January, reported Zocallo Saltillo

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico’s youth represent a large number of the country’s unemployed and have high levels of involvement in the violence. These so-called “Ni-nis” are often targeted by drug trafficking organizations, who attract them with the allure of incomes substantially higher than the national average. 

In a recent study by the think-tank Flacso, a survey of approximately 1,400 youth across eight states - including Guerrero - found that on average 26.3 percent of high school interviewees thought their friends most aspired to be drug traffickers or hired assassins, El Universal reported in mid-January. This was the most common answer among professions including businessmen, police, military, and government officials. Specialists who performed the study attributed the results to the allure of wealth and power that youths associate with drug traffickers, as well as the proximity of gangs in some cities.

Although Guerrero is one of just five Mexican states to have established social programs to tackle youth unemployment, it has also become one of the most violent states in the country. In fall 2012, Guerrero had Mexico’s highest number of organized crime related homicides, reflecting a shift that has seen the conflict move from traditional border regions to other areas of the country, attributed in part to an increase in gangs that have splintered from the country’s big cartels in recent years. Guerrero is the site of conflict between several of these groups.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 15 JUL 2011

The Mexican Army found a 120-hectare plot used for growing marijuana in north Mexico, the largest such plantation ever discovered…

BARRIO 18 / 29 JUN 2018

In our June 28 Facebook Live session, InSight Crime Co-Director Steve Dudley and Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos discussed how…

MEXICO / 5 MAY 2015

The recent murder of a mayoral candidate is a reminder of Mexico's long-standing problem with election violence fueled by organized…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…