“The cartels have so much more money than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings or any of those gangs...and their ability to recruit these kids is really strong,” Walters says, adding that he believes this country is just seeing the beginnings of what the cartels of the future are capable of doing, and the answer is both devious and chilling.
“They’re not just using kids as transport, but as enforcers, because when the average patrol officer is driving down the road and he sees a 14- or 15-year-old, he doesn’t think of him (as a threat),” he says.
That certainly has been the case with an American born 14-year-old whose Mexican mother entered the U.S. illegally. The boy, who stands accused of being a cartel assassin specializing in torturing and beheading his victims, was believed to have started killing human beings when he was a mere 11 years old. The boy worked for the Cartel of the South Pacific, according to officials, and was believed to have received about $3,000 per murder.
Although the child claims to have been forced to kill (a fact that some dispute), many of those who are conscripted by the cartels do so willingly. As Walters points out, money goes a long way towards making the step to violence easy.
Walters agrees there is no easy fix for border security issues, either in the north or south, and says he believes law enforcement needs to communicate better for any fix to work.
“The one area we have to talk about and look at is the tracking and reporting: How good a job are we doing at looking at these cases...and how good a job are we doing as a profession at sharing these lessons and getting [them] out beyond the border?” asks Walters.
By recognizing that crimes bleeding over our borders into other countries and vice versa affect U.S. citizens in every state, and sharing intelligence system-wide, law enforcement can help agencies like ICE and the Border Patrol do their jobs more efficiently and help build better, more efficient partnerships for the future.
A 12-year veteran of police work, Carole Moore has served in patrol, forensics, crime prevention and criminal investigations, and has extensive training in many law enforcement disciplines. She welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.