David Dodd 2:53 a.m., May 21
Mexican Cartels Recruit San Diego Teens
Mexican drug cartels are turning to San Diego’s youth to function as drug mules, the Latin American Herald Tribune is reporting.
Eleven percent of the more than 5000 youths that have been incarcerated in San Diego (many of them Hispanics accused of being involved in street gangs) report being approached at some time or another to transport drugs across the border. The youths, who can more easily cross into Mexico and back without raising suspicion, begin transporting contraband at an average age of 14.
Pedro Rios, an activist who works with the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee, says South Bay high schools have become particularly fertile recruiting grounds for cartels.
“The traffickers pay them around $400 per trip carrying drugs, but we have also seen them get involved in human trafficking, generally picking the people up on this side of the border and taking them to safe houses,” Rios told the Herald Tribune.
Rios is pushing for an expansion of the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, a county law that was adopted in 2000 in response to rising crime rates among youth in the 1990s. He argues that prevention programs should especially be beefed up in the county’s southern regions, where teens are more likely to be targeted to transport drugs and potentially become addicts themselves.