LAREDO, Texas, June 23 (UPI) -- Mexican drug cartels are recruiting teenagers from that country and from the United States to become assassins, officials say.
They are recruited by the Zetas, known as infamous assassins of Mexico's Gulf Cartel, and after a short apprenticeship are lodged in expensive homes in Texas, where they are available to kill rivals whenever needed, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
In one case, American youths involved in a drug shootout were recruited in a discotheque on the main square of Nuevo Laredo with promises of money, women and power, the newspaper said.
"The cartels -- they just seduce you," said Detective Roberto Garcia Jr. of the Laredo Police Department, who with a partner reportedly broke up a teen assassin ring. "They wave that power, that cash, the cars, the easy money. And these kids all have that romantic notion they are going to live forever."
Trial testimony indicated the Gulf Cartel used teen assassins in a turf war with the rival Sinaloa Cartel over the Interstate 35 corridor, which according to police is one of the most important arteries for drug smuggling in the Americas, the Times said.