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Mexico Drug Wars: Teen Girls Being Trained As Hitwomen

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Federal police officers stand on guard during the presentation to the press of suspect Edgar Huerta Montiel, 22, aka "El Wache", an alleged member of the Mexican Zetas drug cartel in Mexico City, Friday, June 17, 2011. According to police, Huerta was arrested Thursday during an operation in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. (AP) | AP

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.

Mendoza was one of six women under 21 years of age who were arrested near Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico.

In 2010, 214 minors in Mexico were arrested on charges relating to organized crime. This is up from only 8 arrests in 2007.

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