Mexican Army Detains 14-Year-Old Suspected Killer

December 3, 2010 - 4:23 PM

El Ponchis, 14-year-old suspect

Mexican army soldiers escort a 14-year-old suspected of working as a killer for a drug cartel in the city of Cuernavaca, Mexico, Friday Dec. 3, 2010. The much-rumored alleged young assassin nicknamed "El Ponchis'' was captured late Thursday at the airport in Cuernavaca with his 16-year-old sister as they were trying to catch a flight to Tijuana and flee the country to San Diego.(AP Photo/Antonio Sierra)

Cuernavaca, Mexico (AP) - The Mexican army has detained a 14-year-old U.S. citizen suspected of acting as a killer for a drug cartel. The boy said he had been working for the cartel since he was 11.

The much-rumored alleged young assassin nicknamed "El Ponchis" was captured late Thursday at the airport near Cuernavaca with his 16-year-old sister as they tried to catch a flight to Tijuana and flee the country, said an army official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

The sister told reporters that they planned to cross the border to San Diego, California, to go to their stepmother's house. She said their mother had sent money for the tickets, but she did not specify where the mother lives.

Morelos state Gov. Marco Adame Castillo said at a news conference that the boy was born in San Diego and that Mexican officials are researching whether he is a citizen of Mexico as well. Although state courts usually handle crimes by juveniles in Mexico, state authorities have asked the federal government to take over the case because of the gravity of the crimes.

The teen told reporters early Friday he has worked for a drug cartel since he was 11 and that he participated in at least four decapitations. The source said his sister was accused of getting rid of the bodies by dumping them on streets and freeways.

"I participated in four executions, but I did it drugged and under threat that if I didn't, they would kill me," said the boy, who appeared calm and showed no remorse.

Another teenage sister accompanied the two, but officials said she was not suspected of being involved in the cartels.

"El Ponchis" wore blue jeans and a T-shirt and the detained sister jeans and a sweater when they were apprehended. Their airline tickets were already purchased.

The army did not specify where they were detained in the airport or whether they had already passed through security checks.

The attorney general for Morelos state said the two would turned over to state authorities, who handle crimes committed by minors in Mexico.

The two were suspected of helping the South Pacific Cartel headed by Hector Beltran Leyva, brother of Arturo Beltran Leyva, a top drug lord who was killed by Mexican marines in Cuernavaca a year ago.

The boy said Friday he had been employed by the cartel since he was ll years old.

Rumors that have circulated for weeks of a killer named "El Ponchis" as young as 12 years old.

Hector Beltran Leyva's fight for control of the cartel has caused a major spike in violence in the state just south of Mexico City, and in neighboring Guerrero state, where the resort of Acapulco is located.

The siblings were living in a poor neighborhood of Jiutepec, a working-class suburb of Cuernavaca, known as a weekend getaway for Mexico City residents. The area has an industrial area with Nissan, Unilever and other factories, rustic single-level concrete homes and some farms.

Neighbors said the mother has worked in the San Diego area for some time, but none had information about the teenagers' father.