Parents in Texas have been warned lately about the influence drug cartels may have over their children. Students in border towns have been the target for Mexican cartels wishing to get work done. The problem has been going on for years now, but there seems to be an increased focus by drug traffickers to use Texas kids in their recent operations.
Working with Drug Cartels
Kids as young as 11 years of age are targeted because they are seen as “expendable” and easily persuaded. For $50, a teen may be asked to do a seemingly simple task, like move a truck from here to there. Others are asked to act as lookouts, or even traffic people or drugs across from Mexico to the United States. Once the kids are hooked up with the cartels, it is nearly impossible for them to walk away, and they may be required to do more dangerous tasks.
25 students have been arrested in one Texas county in the past year doing work for Mexican cartels. Just last week, police caught a 12 year old boy who was driving a stolen pick up truck with 800 pounds of marijuana in it. Those who get caught by authorities are the lucky ones. In May, a high school student named Elisabeth Mandala was found beaten to death trying to smuggle illegal immigrants over the border. These young people are used because the cartels feel they can easily control them, and get rid of them when they want.
Recruiting Our Children
Reports state that 6 of the 7 main Mexican cartels have a presence in the U.S., and that they have set up operations in every major city in Texas. It is something people have feared for a while now, and according to Duane Steen, the regional commander for the Texas Department of Public Safety, the “cartel influence is definitely here”. (1)
The cartels recruit Texas students mainly through gangs. These kids are very vulnerable, and are looking for some way to fit in somewhere. “Some see it (the gang) as their family. Some are attracted to the money, drugs, guns, women, and others are attracted because they have family members in gangs and it seems normal,” said Kim Ogg, the former gang task force director for the city of Houston. (1)
Parents are being urged to watch out for anyone new that their kids may be socializing with, because the recruiters may not be what people expect. They are often no older than the students they are recruiting, and they lure new kids in by telling them about how easy the money is. The money is there, but as more and more Texas kids are finding out, once you’re in, you’re in, and those who join up with a Mexican drug cartel face violence, crime, and even death.