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Kidnapping threats close Mexican schools
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Fourth-grader Ricardo Ivan Ortega knows he is a target in this violent city. His school closed temporarily last month after an anonymous note demanded that teachers hand over their year-end bonuses -- or students would be kidnapped.
Ricardo has a plan.
\"I will just hide,\" the shy 9-year-old said in late November, waiting in the family car while his mother inquired when Luis Urias Elementary would reopen. \"My mom told me not to get near the front gate, and if I need to, to run out of my classroom.\"
Across Ciudad Juarez, parents and students are stricken by reports of kidnapping and extortion threats that started with a sign that appeared Nov. 12 on the front door of another school, the Elena Garro kindergarten, demanding: \"Either give us your bonuses, or we will start to kidnap the children.\"
Police removed it before the children arrived.
Banking on fear
Some speculate that cartels now are targeting schools to supplement income during the Mexican government\'s crackdown on drug trafficking, much as they\'ve already extorted businesses. Others say common criminals are trying to cash in on the fear that pervades border cities, where terrified residents are seeing ever-more-brutal murders -- more than 1,300 so far this year in Ciudad Juarez.
Narco juniors, or young drug gangsters, first appeared in the 1990s, when the Arellano Felix family recruited some of their sons and daughters and their affluent friends to run drugs and do their killing.
But a dramatic escalation of the drug war since 2005 has lured many more youngsters to work for gangs across Mexico.
\"These kids are cheap labor who cannot be imprisoned. More and more of them being used by the drug gangs,\" said Guillen.
Narcos Recruiting Texas Teens, DPS Says
Mexican drug cartels are luring young students into the narco-trade with promises of cars, cash and celebrity, say state police who want parents to intervene.
The warning comes as law enforcement officials report an increase in the number of teens from both Mexico and the United States becoming involved in human and drug trafficking. In 2008, minors accounted for nearly a fifth of the felony drug charges and gang-related arrests in border counties, according to DPS. In Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, more than 130 minors have been killed in drug-related violence in the past year, according to a Washington Post report earlier this month.
Mexican cartels are increasingly using kids to transport both people and drugs because young traffickers are less likely to be apprehended. Mark Qualia, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Washington, said federal border officials historically have not tracked the number of undocumented minors apprehended for trafficking. Most, he said, are simply deported.
“Your smuggling organizations have come to realize that they don’t lose a potential courier — because if it’s a juvenile, nine times out of 10, they’ll be released,” Qualia said. Last month, Qualia said, Border Patrol began testing a system to track youths arrested in suspected trafficking incidents to identify repeat offenders.
Kidnappings soar in Mexico
JUAREZ, Mexico - Daniel Escobedo was driving to school when he stopped for what he thought was a security check at a roadblock in the Mexican city of Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Worried about being late for class, he hurriedly handed his driver\'s license to the two uniformed men, who he thought were police officers.
Moments later, two dark SUVs screeched to a halt. Armed masked men jumped out and grabbed Escobedo, 21. He spent the next six weeks blindfolded, shuttled between safe houses while a drug-gang leader negotiated a ransom with his father, who\'s a lawyer. He was beaten, shocked and burned until his rescue April 1 by Mexican soldiers who\'d been tipped that drug dealers were using the house.
The phenomenon is spilling over into the United States. Phoenix police investigated more than 350 kidnappings last year, a 40 percent increase from the year before. Most are tied to crackdowns in Mexico, said Detective Reuben Gonzales of the Phoenix police department.
The rise in kidnapping helped prompt a recent warning from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City about the dangers Americans might face as they travel in Mexico. \"Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007,\" across from San Diego, according to the advisory, which was issued April 15. \"Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas.\"
Originally posted by felonius
We got our troops in Iraq for the big corporations while they should be on the border / in Mexico handling this issue.
Aint heard much about this have ya? Dontcha think this is worthy of military intervention? How about the signs in AZ (60 miles north of the border) telling AMERICANS not to enter. Too dangerous!
When the hell did WE roll over and offer up our belly?
Our "leadership" has a LOT of explaning to do. Most should be brought on charges of fraud and treason for not upholding their obligations of DEFENDING THE NATION AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC! But I guess when some of them would rate as the domestic enemies its no wonder.