Dozens of teenage girls trained as ‘hit-men’ have been rounded up, as police have cracked down on violent drug cartels in Mexico. According to Reuters, female gang members as young as 16 are being paid high sums to become hit-men for various criminal gangs across the country.
One girl from the northern border state of Tamaulipas described to Reuters reporters how she had been trained to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons by the Zetas, one of Mexico’s most brutal gangs.
She said she was paid the equivalent of US$1000 for two weeks’ work, more than three times the national average salary.
Victor Clark-Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights, said rising youth unemployment, easy access to drugs and the quick cash that cartels offer to recruits are to blame.
Various reports suggest that 40,000 people, including many police officers, have died in escalating drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon sent in the army to try to crush the cartels at the end of 2006.
Advocacy group Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico believes that 30,000 children are working for criminal gangs in the country.