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Mexico’s most deadly cartel ‘recruiting army’ of killer kids by handing out toys

Mexico's most deadly cartel 'recruiting army' of killer kids by handing out toys

Mexico’s most powerful cartel leader is handing out toys to children in a bid to create a new generation of loyal soldiers.

Gang members from The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) were preparing to hand out goodies to mark Children’s Day in Mexico, foreign media reports.

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A message circulated on social media said that their leader El Mencho wanted kids to celebrate “the childhood he did not have”.

Robert Almonte, a former US federal marshal who spent 25 years in El Paso’s Police Department tackling narcotics, believes the tactics could be part of a recruitment drive for the cartel.

He told the Daily Star: “El Mencho will use any means to recruit young boys. However, there are many young boys who have taken up arms against El Mencho and other cartels as part of a civil defence group.”

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CJNG soldiers
The cartel has rapidly expanded across Mexico in recent years

Along with brainwashing kids, the tactics can also help to win over adults in the region.

However, El Mencho’s criminal outfit was not the first to adopt these tactics.

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Mr Almonte explained: “The Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf Cartel are involved in many community outreach programmes.

He added: “They do this to gain the favour of the community so they think that these cartels are not all that bad, they do more for us than our own government.

Toys handed out by the CJNG cartel
An expert claims the latest tactics could be part of a recruitment drive

“In many cases, these acts have caused people in the community to defend and protect the cartels from authorities.”

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During the early stages of the pandemic, the Gulf Cartel distributed aid parcels in the eastern state of Tamaulipas.

The packages contained rice, beans, oil and tinned food, and were emblazoned with the group’s name and a message stating: “In support of Victoria City.”

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CJNG leader El Mencho
Investigators have been trying to trace the elusive CJNG leader El Mencho for years

They also referred to “Señor 46, Vaquero”, an apparent reference to the cartel’s local chief.

Troops from the Sinaloa Cartel, formerly led by imprisoned drug lord El Chapo, also adopted similar tactics.

Mr Almonte continued: “Make no mistake, El Mencho is doing all of this only for self-serving purposes.

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“El Mencho and the other cartels’ involvement in community outreach programmes are only for their own benefit.”

Earlier this month, CJNG troops adopted devastating new tactics to take on police forces.

Cartels used two rigged drones to drop explosives on police who had been tasked with clearing a road leading to the city of Aguililla, in Michoacan, foreign media reported.

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