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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Mexican Cartels Enlist San Diego's Latino Kids

US-based children are often used to smuggle drugs across the border.

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Age is no barrier. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

12/30/11

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Mexican drug cartels are recruiting young latinos in San Diego to smuggle drugs across the border. According to KPBS San Diego, more than 5,000 youth have been held in San Diego county jails for drug related offenses in the last two years. The cartels use children as young as 11—referred to as "The Expendables"—because they attract less suspicion. They can make up to $400 for each smuggling trip across the border. “Cartels use these juveniles, telling them, 'Nothing is going to happen to you because you're a juvenile. Here's some quick cash,'" says US Customs spokeswoman Angelica De Cima. "These kids are putting themselves at risk and they don't understand the consequences." When caught, they face punishment ranging from probation to 15 months in a juvenile camp. Legal permanent residents who are not citizens can be deported.

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