Non-Profit Sheds Light on Youth in Drug Cartels

Non-Profit Sheds Light on Youth in Drug Cartels

( – Saskia Niño De Rivera co-founded Reinserta, a Mexican non-profit organization, in response to her uncle’s kidnapping several years ago. The group works with about 180 adolescents a year to help uncover underlying reasons for their crimes in hopes of assisting them in learning how to reenter society as law-abiding citizens. A disturbing new report discussed the story of one such child.

Jacobo had a hard life as an impoverished child growing up in the Mexican state of Jalisco. According to him, a local drug cartel recruited him to commit his first murder when he was only 12 years old. As he explained, the cartel targeted children who roamed the streets in search of money. “At 12… I became a sort of hired killer,” he told Reinserta.

Jacobo related that by his mid-teens, he routinely kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and eventually dismembered rival gang members. Along the way, he picked up an addiction to methamphetamines. He claimed he took the drug to kill the mental impact of his life of crime.

Jacobo eventually murdered an individual in broad daylight in front of several witnesses. Shortly afterward, cartel members ambushed him and shot him in the head, abdomen, and back. Somehow he survived and is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for murder. That’s where he came into contact with Reinserta officials.

Jacobo’s story serves as a harsh reminder of the Mexican drug cartels’ use of young children. Under Mexican law, most underaged offenders receive prison sentences ranging from three to five years, no matter the severity of their crime.

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