Recent arrests in Mexico call attention to a disturbing trend in the country's war on drugs: that teen girls are being trained as drug cartel assassins.
Reuters reports the case of Maria Celeste Mendoza, a 16-year-old who was arrested this week following a gun fight in central Mexico.
Dressed in combat fatigues and with her face hidden, the girl from the northern border state of Tamaulipas described how she had been trained to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons by the Zetas, one of Mexico's most brutal gangs.
In a listless drawl, Mendoza said she was paid 12,000 pesos ($1,000) for two weeks' work, more than three times the national average. Although she said she was trained as a hitwoman, it was unclear if she had killed anyone yet.
In 2010, 214 minors in Mexico were arrested on charges relating to organized crime. This is up from only 8 arrests in 2007.