Teens in a community in Mexico have decided to take up arms in response to increasing local kidnappings. The community police force has enlisted schoolchildren as young as 12 to assist, highlighting the challenges some regions face against organized crime.
Equipped with rifles and sticks, masked boys and girls marched at a local sports ground in Ayahualtempa, a mountain village in the southwestern state of Guerrero, before joining patrols.
“We can’t attend school due to lawlessness,” remarked one recruited teen to Milenio television, sharing how he acquired firearm skills after a few training sessions.
Violence has surged in Guerrero, among Mexico’s poorest states. In early January, an alleged drone attack by the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana claimed about 30 lives, according to human rights organizations.
In Ayahualtempa, four family members have gone missing since Friday after being abducted, stated the Guerrero state prosecutor’s office.
The youths are reinforcing the community police force to safeguard the village of approximately 700 residents while adults search for the missing individuals, explained Antonio Toribio, a local authority.
Toribio said “We won’t tolerate further abductions or disappearances” .
This isn’t the first instance of minors bearing arms in Guerrero, where authorities grapple with formidable drug trafficking organizations.