The body of a 13 year-old boy who had confessed to working for the Zetas Mexican drug cartel as a hired assassin was found alongside six others in the municipality of Morelos Thursday, CNN reports.
Authorities in the Mexican state of Zacatecas confirmed that Jose Armando Moreno, four women, and one other male were found murdered execution-style on the side of a highway in the municipality of Morelos. The bodies showed signs of torture and it is believed the boy’s mother is among the victims.
According to Univision, Moreno was arrested on Feb. 3 by the Federal Police. At the time, the boy admitted he’d been involved in at least 10 homicides, three of which he personally executed.
"After being detained, he confessed to authorities that he had participated in at least 10 homicides and that he was somebody who was good at shooting with a high-caliber weapon," Arturo Nahle Garcia, state’s prosecutor in Zacatecas, told CNN.
The boy was released in accordance to Mexican law which prohibits individuals under the age of 14 from being incarcerated or placed in correctional facilities. A similar case was brought to a Mexican judge’s attention in 2011; 14 year-old U.S.-born hitman Edgar Jiménez (“El Ponchis”) was sentenced to three years in jail after confessing to killing four people whose bodies were found beheaded and hanging from a bridge.
"I participated in four executions, but I did it drugged and under threat that if I didn't, they would kill me," Jiménez told reporters after his arrest in 2010, according to Reuters.
While official statistics are lacking, in 2010 BBC Mundo reported that civil organizations estimate approximately 25,000 children and teenagers had been linked to cartel criminal activity -- includi from theft to homicide.