Ed Bedford 11:58 p.m., May 20
That drug damn is stealing our children. MEXICALI (ZETA, Cristian Torres Cruz) - An increasing number of offenses are committed by young people; up by 80% in 2010. In Mexicali, 600 juveniles are arrested by the Municipal police each month. Between 10 and 12 juveniles are sent daily to the childrens care unit, of whom more than a 50% are drugged. They consume ice or heroin; drugs that are sold at lowest cost per dose. Youngsters who murder, kidnap and rob, come from dysfunctional homes, stopped attending school beyond the third grade and are addicted. They begin their criminal lives with street crime, unless they fall into the clutches of traffickers. Corrupted by drugs and an aggressive social context, young people who sometimes are under age 14 are arrested for federal crimes, robbery, rape and killings, more and more young people, more and more viciously. Since only the beginning of the year, blood crimes increased by 80% in Mexicali in relation to the same period of 2010, however a criminal career grows; a simple robber with violence becomes an executioner. Sitting in jail Jonathan Ramos, barely 18, broke down in tears, he is linked to the death of his grandmother Agustina García García, 75. The session was interrupted because the young man could not breathe and appeared to faint. He now faces a possible sentence of 50 years after the stabbing -14 times. Witness alerted authorities to Jonathan waiting for the vehicle which he intended to get rid of the body of his grandmother. Municipal police arrived and detained him. Just 3 days before, the young man had been arrested for theft of vehicle, but the judge granted pre-trial liberty. A day before, another 16-year-old girl had been arrested for the murder of her aunt. In her statement to court she noted that she took psychotropic pills in the early hours at aunt’s home. In her first statement she pointed out that some cookies were in a jar that she intended to steal when she was surprised by her aunt causing a scuffle. She covered her with a pillow to bang her head on the floor, sufficient to kill her. A son of the aunt noted the scuffle, he said there were first words and it ended in blows. A young man attended a hearing; at the time of his arrest a mob was going to lynch him after committing a murder. Two days after this, another girl, named Alberta Vázquez Carrillo, 18, was executed in the colonia Benito Juárez. Months before her death, she was involved in several robberies including that of the Municipal police. At her young age, she spent at least 18 occasions with the systems of Justice. The first versions about her death pointed to a fight between gangs. On March 27, three juveniles were killed, among them one age 14, at María de la Luz Orozco Templado in la colonia Conjunto Urbano Orizaba on la calle República Mexicana, the street where Jonathan killed his grandmother. The investigation noted that young people were drinking beer, when one of them lost a ball at a neighbor’s house, so went looking for it. The owner accused him of theft and slapped him, causing the child to go for his brother to have a sort of rematch and ended up stabbing her. However, another witness observed young people as they stole from the woman. For this reason, the judge called the crime a homicide. To the judge, serious crimes among young people have increased sharply. "We have seen increased violent crime such as killings and injury up by 80%, already nearly double. I believe the narcomenudeo have increased in these crimes; there are many drugs circulating in the street". His years of experience at the head of the juvenile court may give him an almost perfect view of young people committing crimes “They are people of disjointed families, there is promiscuity in her home and danger in community; among those who don’t complete school, 90% are consumers of some type of narcotic drugs.” As with any career, young people are progressing in criminal careers at a very marked trend. "First offenses of graffiti, robberies, and fights; then distribution and sale of narcotic drugs grows gradually among themselves; and at the end - young assassins - people hired for a very small amount to deprive people of life. I remember the case where a youngster deprived the life of his dad and his girlfriend. He had become a repeat offender for graffiti, already had a history of theft, violent behavior, running away from family; this range of behavior. All those who come before the court for serious crimes already have a history.” We are concerned because only 10% either study or work; so their criminal careers are on the rise and even though you know the law prevents charging a juvenile on charges of organized crime, you have to recognize in reality they participate in the cartel’s business. They are usually the narcomenudistas, used as drivers for the conveyance of cargoes of drugs or care for safe houses.” According to the law, a minor may spend a maximum 10-year sentence in prison. Carla Yaneth Miranda Jimenez, head of the unit of care to minors (UAM), indicated that the problems most common among young people are gang participation, being under the effect of street drugs, and quarrels in colonies and schools. 457 out of 800 young people who were sent to the UAM with a judge’s qualifications were intoxicated with ice or marijuana because are less valuable substances. While the average age is 15, some have even been children under 12. “These young people are a total marginalization of culture and family, isolated completely from the family. Here we receive between 10 and 15 young people a day; the common denominator is living with an aunt, cousin, or grandmother. Few live in a stable household of a Mom and Dad.” Cases of recidivism are worrying. "We had a boy since the age12, who is now 17, has no father or mother, has a brother in the Cereso Prison. One other minor in a rehabilitation center, lived with his grandmother. At one time at the UAM, we saw a juvenile five times in one week, so we decided to place him in a rehabilitation center. That was the most serious case with 47 international crimes. We didn’t have the slightest idea of how to reintegrate him into society because according to his State Psycho physiological exam, he was quite disabled. Another 14-year-old has been arrested 14 times, mainly for the consumption of ice and glass.” According to Alejandro Lora Torres, operational Deputy Director of the Municipal police in Mexicali, 600 young people are arrested every month for criminal problems. The one feature they share is that they are barely 14 and are already used in many narcomenudeo tasks. “In the last two months there have been several charges for serious crimes: robbery with assault, possession of weapons. The offenders have been younger so we have worked in coordination with the families to determine why they are breaking the law. The murders in the colonia Nationalist Western area were ‘salvageable aged’ children - as we say.” Regarding what can be done to solve the problem, Lora commented: “The matter is serious; we must intervene with all authorities to work on family violence. Teach parents how to reproach gangs. The President of the Congress of the State Framework Antonio Vizcarra Calderon said that the problem with young people comes from a negative inertia when parents are absent from the home by economic necessity. "You don't have the time to care for them. Nowadays purchasing power has declined substantially and both parents have to work. This lack of time with them prevents transmitting the proper values to the children.” Curfew was proposed for minors in the Valle Mexicali by the Director of public security, Deputy Juan Vargas Rodriguez. The former President of Tecate also recommended a similar measure. He said, “We have a curfew for juveniles than forbids them to be away from home after 10:30 p.m. Parents are responsible for minors. This is one measure of assisting parents with needed care, because they have nothing good to do on the streets and are exposed to young people beginning something mild and hence comes vagrancy, then the drugs, crime and even trafficking in minors.” Juan Bautista Montejano de la Torre, President of the Commission of Justice of the State Congress, pointed out that another measure that has been studied was criminal age reduction. He noted there would be adjustments to criminal and penal laws: "We are looking at making criminals of 16 year-olds because we are commonly seeing children aged 15 or 16 committing offences that we would not see until much older. For a long time it was very rare for a minor to commit such crimes as killing their grandmother because they were released free on bail three days earlier for stealing a car. "It is part of what we have not done in the new criminal justice system, the procedural framework must be strengthened and updated and keep pace of society. The legislation made in 2007 left many loopholes in the code of criminal procedure in the case of serious crimes. We need to update it so that it can be functional." Another measure which has proved controversial since implementation has been curfew, although not shared by all; "The curfew is not a solution, we need a system of preventive schemes participated in by society and the three organs of Government. Synthetic drugs are more damaging to the adolescents. That drug damn is stealing our children. We need to work on this and it is not the only thing, it needs prevention from the schools". For its part José Carlos Vizcarra, President of the National Council of public security, spoke about the killings that have been committed by young people. “This should be a very important focus about what we would not like to see in our society and bring everyone on our side. We are sure that it is the drug; it is the way of life for these young people. But, there are alternatives that can be taken. We do not necessarily believe that using jail is a best option. It should be the last, but before that society must commit itself to this a little more.” He said that he denounces young people for engaging in criminal activities and they earn their punishment no matter their ages. “Unfortunately these types of crime cannot be prevented. It is very unfortunate that we have that kind of young people in our society. We need to combat impunity. It is no use to stop a youngster for any crime and then three-days later, they walk loose, because all that does is motivate them to think it's okay.” For his agency, the Secretary of public security of the State, Daniel de la Rosa indicated it was a matter of prevention because police officers cannot be put in each household. “This is about awareness-raising, mainly attacking the main problem of addiction and what we know about this risk factor. It is what is causing these crimes. The most important thing is having a partnership with the health sector, education. Social influencing the majority of the homes will eliminate this kind of very unfortunate behavior".