Children’s Day was widely celebrated Tuesday, particularly in Veracruz where the the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) joined in the fun.
Toys were handed out to poor children in 15 municipalities in the mountainous central region of the state, presumably by the notorious drug cartel.
Accompanying each bag of gifts was a card that read, “The CJNG wishes you a happy Children’s Day.”
While its members were delivering the gifts, the criminal organization issued a statement on social media to announce that it had taken on the task of delivering gifts to “the towns most forgotten by the authorities.”
“We bring a moment of joy and happiness to the children. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel not only looks after the safety of the people of Veracruz, it also seeks to give support to those who need it the most,” continued the statement.
The cartel’s job, it said, “is to look after and defend the rights of the working people” and prevent others from harming society. “We are here, steadfast and ready.”
The CJNG also handed out gifts in January in celebration of Kings’ Day. Another gang, Grupo Sombra, gave away food and beverages just before Christmas in Tuxpan and Poza Rica, while the Sinaloa Cartel has engaged in gift-giving in the state for which it was named.
The practice appears to be a part of efforts by organized crime to recruit new people. Security Secretary Alfredo Durazo said last September, before he took up his post, that at least 460,000 young people were employed by criminal gangs, according to estimates by various civil organizations.
The figure is well over an estimate of 30,000 by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) in a 2015 report, which said children are recruited from the age of 10 or 11 to traffic in drugs, arms or people and commit other crimes such as assault and kidnapping.
The offer of money, a job and drugs makes it easy for cartels to find recruits among youths living on the street with little to occupy their time and little chance of bettering their condition, says the head of the school of law at the University of Guadalajara.
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