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Mexican Drug Cartels Hire Children to Work as ‘Mules’

Posted on April 5, 2012 in Research & News

It appears there is a new way to get drugs across the U.S. border. Children are being hired as work ‘mules’ to carry drugs over the Mexican border and into the United States or to sell them in close by Mexican towns. One 14 year old boy who shared his story says he has not met his own father and gang members hired him as a child to push drugs and became addicted, according to a recent news story.

The teen is one of a rising number of youth who are being used by gangs as ‘mules’, according to anthropologist Victor Clark, who studies the trafficking of drugs. Clark says minors are inexpensive and easily disposable for organized crimes especially in areas where there tend to be little job opportunities. Without places for leisure, the consumption and distribution of drugs has grown rapidly, says Clark.

Authorities in Mexico say they’re aware of this problem but they don’t have official numbers on the quantity of minors detained for distributing and selling the drugs because laws forbid keeping minor’s criminal records.

The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that from 2008-2011 the amount of adolescents from ages 14-18 has grown by ten times, when it comes to selling drugs between the Tijuana and San Diego, CA border. Spokeswoman, Lauren Mack with ICE, said 19 minors were caught and arrested during 2008 but by 2010 there were 190 arrested. Mack says most were students in high school who carried the drugs by hiding them somewhere within their bodies or cars and the drugs were usually cocaine and methamphetamine. Clark says the problem is the same all down the Mexican/California border in cities like Ciuadad Juarez, Nogales and Reynosa.

Clark says the problem is growing at a worrisome pace. Officials in drug rehab treatment centers across Tijuana say there are nearly 500 adolescents undergoing treatment right now.

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