Sunday, June 19, 2011

Teenage girls as young as 16 are being trained as hitwomen for Mexican drugs cartels - 18th June 2011

Looking slightly terrified and bowing her head in shame, one slender, young girl hesitated before announcing to waiting media that she was a 'hit woman.'

Maria Celeste Mendoza is only 16, but was among 10 suspected gang members, including three other teen girls and two young women, arrested this week by police after a shootout with authorities in central Mexico.

Sadly she is one of the growing ranks of young people working for the country's drug cartels.

With her face hidden, the girl from the northern border state of Tamaulipas, described how she had been trained to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons by the Zetas, one of Mexico's most brutal gangs.

In a listless drawl, Mendoza said she was paid 12,000 pesos ($1,000) for two weeks' work, more than three times the national average.

Although she said she was trained as a hitwoman, it was unclear if she had killed anyone yet.

As is customary in Mexico, she and the other suspects were paraded in front of the media by police after their capture in San Cristobal de la Barranca, near the country's second city, Guadalajara.

Rising youth unemployment, easy access to drugs and the quick cash cartels offer recruits are all blamed for felling the delinquency that has cast a shadow over Mexico's future.

'Organised crime has become a job provider for a section of the population who don't have a lot of other options,' said Victor Clark-Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights in Tijuana on the Mexican border with California. Read More