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News > Latin America

Armed Teen Girl Detained in Mexico After Shootout with Army

  • There are about 75,000 children working for drug cartels in Mexico.

    There are about 75,000 children working for drug cartels in Mexico. | Photo: Tiempo Digital

Published 22 July 2015

The 14-year-old girl formed part of a heavily armed group working for a drug cartel. About 75,000 children work for drug cartels in Mexico.

A 14 year-old armed girl was detained Tuesday in a Mexican border city across from the U.S., along with four heavily armed men who said they worked for the Juarez cartel, according to local media.

The group, which also includes a 17-year-old male, had allegedly engaged in a shootout with Mexican soldiers a few days before their arrest, El Fronterizo newspaper said.

They managed to escape, prompting federal authorities to deploy forces to search for them.

The girl, identified only as Rosalinda, is said to be a “hitgirl” for the Juarez cartel and in charge of safeguarding shipments of drugs while they are packaged and sent across the border into the United States.

The armed group was detained in a small community called La Caseta, which they claimed to control. The town has a population of about 1,200 people and it is located across the border from the Texas towns of Fabens and Tornillo.

Rosalinda and the rest of her gang were caught after a persecution by military and federal police forces.

She had a .22 pistol in her possession, while the 17-year-old boy had an assault rifle as did the other three older males.

They also had over 400 cartridges of different calibers.

75,000 Children Work for Drug Cartels

In 2013, BBC published a story saying there were over 75,000 children working for drug cartels either voluntarily or by force.

The British news outlet added over 25,000 were working for the Sinaloa cartel of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world's most powerful and most wanted drug lord, who recently escaped from a Mexican maximum security jail. About 10,000 federal police forces and the military are trying to recapture him, but so far there is no clue where he is, despite information that he is more than likely somewhere between Jesus Maria and Badiraguato in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

RELATED: President Peña Nieto Sanction El Chapo Guzman’s Escape

Activists from Mexican youth nongovernmental organization Cauce Ciudadano told BBC the cartels exploit children by using them for kidnapping, drug packaging and safeguarding, and as “halcones,” or lookouts.

In 2006, close to 2,000 minors were killed in shootouts or other gang-related activities.

In June 2014, the federal statistics office of the government reported 45,000 minors were missing, and according to activists and child protection agencies in Mexico, many are abducted for their organs or to be prostituted, but many more are coerced into working for drug cartels.

El Ponchis, the ‘Hitboy’ who Killed 10, Decapitated 4, Tortured Many

One of Mexico's most renowned cases of minors involved in drug cartels is that of Edgar Ramirez, aka El Ponchis, who was 13 when detained trying to catch a flight to San Diego, California, where he was born.

El Ponchis was detained when attempting to go back to San Diego, California, where he was born. | Photo: Reuters

After his arrest, El Ponchis admitted to 10 homicides and to having tortured many rival drug members, as well as mutilating and decapitating at least four of his victims.

Mexican officials didn’t jail him because the law bans authorities from holding minors under 14 years old in prisons, and instead sent him back to the United States for rehabilitation.

El Ponchis told news outlets that when he was about 11 he was abducted by members of the South Pacific drug cartel based in Morelos, south of Mexico City.

“They gave me drugs and then taught me how to use a gun and a rifle. I became very good at shooting with these weapons,” he said before being taken back to the U.S.

WATCH: Mexico Deporting Increasing Number of Migrants, Including Many Children

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