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Homeland Security

US Teen Accused of Being a Drug Cartel Hitman on Trial in Mexico

VOA News July 20, 2011

A teenaged boy accused of being a drug cartel hitman has gone on trial in Mexico. Edgar Jimenez Lugo, who was born in the United States, is charged with killing and mutilating four people.

The victims' bodies were found strung from a bridge last year in the central Mexican resort town of Cuernavaca, in Morelos state, outside of Mexico City.

In a video interview Lugo says he felt bad committing the murders, but feared for his own life if he did not carry out the orders of the South Pacific drug cartel.

The maximum penalty for a juvenile convicted of crimes in Mexico is a three year prison sentence. The trial is expected to last two weeks and will include the testimony of at least 60 witnesses.

The 14-year-old Lugo, nicknamed "el Ponchis" or "the Cloak" was captured in December as he tried to board a flight in Tijuana, Mexico bound for San Diego, California.

The Mexican Network for the Rights of Childhood says at least 15,000 minors have been recruited to commit crimes for the drug cartels.

More than 41,000 people have died in violence linked to Mexico's drug gangs since President Felipe Calderon initiated a military crackdown on them in December, 2006.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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