Criminal gangs are recruiting children because they can’t find hitmen known as sicarios, President López Obrador said on Thursday.
Speaking at his morning news conference, López Obrador said his assertion was based on information provided by members of his government’s security cabinet.
“. . . It’s becoming difficult for [criminal] organizations to get sicarios and [that’s why] they’re increasingly recruiting children,” he said, claiming that the government’s social programs are providing opportunities to young adults that lead them away from a life of crime.
In turn, criminal gangs are led to “desperation” and resort to recruiting children to fill their ranks, López Obrador said.
“It won’t be easy” for them to do that “because we’re not going to stop attending to children and young people – we’re dealing with the causes [of violence] . . . providing options to children, young people, moving them away from weapons and violence,” he said.
The president’s remarks came in response to a question about the recruitment of children as trainees for a vigilante security force in the mountains of Guerrero.
Nineteen children aged between 6 and 15 were presented as community police-in-waiting in the municipality of Chilapa on Wednesday.
The coordinator of the regional community police force, CRAC-PF, said their training is necessary in the face of threats posed by Los Ardillos and other crime gangs.
“We teach them to defend themselves so that they’re not kidnapped. We have proof that if you carry a weapon, criminal groups don’t mess with you,” Bernardino Sánchez said.
Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo described the arming of minors as “regrettable,” adding that the government will carry out a review of self-defense forces in different parts of the country because many of them were not formed legitimately and are not operating that way either.
“It’s regrettable that irresponsible adults are arming young people who even in the best of cases don’t have any chance of properly defending themselves,” he said.
“Not all [community police forces] have a legitimate origin or a legitimate purpose. Accordingly, as a government we have the obligation to review the operation of these organizations . . .” Durazo added.
Indeed, some people say that the CRAC-PF has links to Los Ardillos’ bitter rival, Los Rojos.
Durazo stressed that public security is ultimately the responsibility of the Mexican state while conceding that additional forces are required in Guerrero.
However, the secretary said that the security situation has improved in the southern state, pointing out that homicide statistics show that it is no longer among the five most violent entities in the country.
Source: El Financiero (sp)