Drug Cartels Now Recruiting Young Children

South Carolina Drug Crime Lawyers

A conviction for a drug related offense carries stiff penalties.  Law enforcem

ent officials in Texas claim several Mexican drug cartels are luring youngsters as young as 11 years old to work in their smuggling operations.

Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw told Reuters the drug gangs have a chilling name for the young children lured into their operations.

“They call them ‘the expendables,'” he said.

McCraw said his task force has evidence that six Mexican drug gangs have “command and control centers” in Texas actively recruiting children for their operations, attracting them with what appears to be “easy money” for doing easy tasks.

“Cartels would pay kids $50 just for them to move a vehicle from one position to another position, which allows the cartel to keep it under surveillance to see if law enforcement has it under surveillance,” he said.

“Of course, once you’re hooked up with them, there’s consequences.”

McCraw said 25 minors have been arrested in one county alone in 2011 for running drugs, acting as lookouts, or doing other work for organized Mexican drug gangs.

The cartels are now expanding out, he said, and have operations in all major Texas cities.

This month, “we made an arrest of a 12-year-old boy who was in a stolen pickup truck with 800 pounds of marijuana,” he said. “So they do recruit our kids.”

Officials say children are less likely to be suspects than adults, and are easily manipulated by relatively small sums of money.  They face less severe penalties than adults if arrested which is why the cartels are after them. 

In response to this problem, McCraw says the state of Texas is joining a program initiated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection called “Operation Detour,” in which law enforcement officers meet with children and their parents in schools and at community centers to warn them about the dangers of what appears to be the easy money the Mexican drug gangs offer.


By: Pete Strom, South Carolina Drug Crime Attorney