Thu, Dec 09, 2010 - Page 7 News List

US officials meet with alleged child hitman in Mexico

AP, JIUTEPEC, MEXICO

US Embassy officials met with a 14-year-old boy accused of being a drug cartel assassin to check on his welfare and provide him with information on a lawyer in case it turns out he is American, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Mexican officials and his family say the boy, who became a kind of urban legend in Mexico before his capture and claims he carried out at least four executions, was born in the US even though he spent much of his childhood in Mexico.

However, Embassy spokesman Alexander Featherstone said his citizenship has not been determined and US officials met with the teen on Monday to offer him consular assistance “in case he is a US citizen.”

The boy, who authorities only named publicly as Edgar, was arrested on Thursday with a 19-year-old sister, Elizabeth Jimenez Lugo, as they tried to board a plane to Tijuana in an airport near Cuernavaca south of Mexico City. The two planned to cross the border into San Diego to be with their mother, Jimenez Lugo told reporters when they were handed over to federal authorities on Friday.

Soldiers also detained their sister, Lina Erika Jimenez Lugo, 23, who had driven them to the airport.

No birth certificate for the boy is on file in San Diego County.

However, birth records show Elizabeth Jimenez Lugo was born in 1991 at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in San Diego and her sister, Lina Erika, is registered as having been born in Juitepec, Mexico. Both records show Carmen Solis, their paternal grandmother, was listed as their mother, but no father is shown on either birth certificate.

Mexico’s Organized Crime Unit said late on Monday it is holding the boy’s sisters for 30 days for investigation of possible kidnapping and organized crime charges.

Soldiers hunting for Mexico’s alleged child assassin barged into a baptism party for the 14-year-old suspect’s young cousin late last month to search every corner. They returned two days later, nearly breaking down the gate to the two-story concrete house in a suburb of Cuernavaca.

This time they even checked under the bed, but didn’t find the boy.

The boy told reporters that he was kidnapped and forced to work for the cartel at age 11 and participated in at least four executions, though he said he was drugged and under threat.

When he was still a baby, Edgar’s father brought the boy with five siblings from San Diego back to Jiutepec, an industrial suburb of Cuernavaca, to live with the father’s mother, who raised them until she died, a relative, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Authorities say the boy worked for Julio Padilla, who has been fighting for control of the drug trade in Morelos.

The 19-year-old girl was allegedly Padilla’s girlfriend.

The boy was an errand boy, not an assassin, the relative said of the youth, who allegedly appears in several videos on the Internet showing teenagers claiming they were drug cartel assassins. Some said he was as young as 12.

“He is a sweet boy,” the relative said. “Maybe he appeared in the video just to show off.”

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