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Mexican Drug Cartels Hire American Teens as Killers

mexico-map21The drug trade has long provided dangerous employment and riches for Americans teens seeking the good life. We hear so often of that arrangement in urban areas. Now it’s happening with American teens and Mexican drug cartels.

By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
New York Times
LAREDO, Tex. — When he was finally caught, Rosalio Reta told detectives here that he had felt a thrill each time he killed. It was like being Superman or James Bond, he said.

”I like what I do,” he told the police in a videotaped confession. ”I don’t deny it.”

Mr. Reta was 13 when he was recruited by the Zetas, the infamous assassins of the Gulf Cartel, law enforcement officials say. He was one of a group of American teenagers from the impoverished streets of Laredo who was lured into the drug wars across the Rio Grande in Mexico with promises of high pay, fancy cars and sexy women.

After a short apprenticeship, the young men lived in an expensive house in Texas, available to kill whenever called on. The Gulf Cartel was engaged in a turf war with the Sinaloa Cartel over the Interstate 35 corridor, the north-south highway that connects Laredo to Dallas and beyond, and is, according to law enforcement officials, one of the most important arteries for drug smuggling in the Americas.

The young men all paid a heavy price. Jesus Gonzalez III was beaten and knifed to death in a Mexican jail at 23. Mr. Reta, now 19, and his boyhood friend, Gabriel Cardona, 22, are serving what amounts to life sentences in prisons in the United States.

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