Drug war takes a staggering toll on Mexico's young

(CBS News) CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - President Obama is in Mexico City Thursday evening. He is meeting with Mexico's president on trade, immigration and drug smuggling. The country is at war with drug cartels and that spills into the U.S. One border town is caught in the crossfire.

Like many people in Juarez, Maria Torres cries at all the suffering. She lost four children in five years: one strangled, two shot, one overdose.

All victims of Juarez' deadly drug-trafficking, she said. The violence has left Torres to raise three grandchildren and a niece by herself on $10 a day.

The drug violence in Juarez, Mexico has claimed the lives of Maria Torres' four children. She is now left to raising three grandchildren and a niece by herself. She tells the kids their parents are in heaven.
CBS News

She told them their parents are in heaven. Eight-year-old Angel was four when his mother was killed.

Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" drops off of Forbes' billionaires list
Mexico: Drug war has led to 26,121 disappearances
U.S. militarizes Latin American drug war

"She loved me very much," he said. "And that's what hurts most of all."

Like Angel, the children of Juarez are hurting. Turf wars between rival drug cartels turned Juarez into one of the deadliest cities on earth. Children were witnesses, victims, survivors. At least 10,000 have been orphaned. Others were recruited by gangs.

This section of the main juvenile detention facility was built to house 35 of the worst offenders, one per cell. Now there are two per cell and more arrive every day.

Director Christina Ramos Diaz said 10 years ago the worst juvenile crimes were theft and fights. "Murders, decapitations, extortion, car jacking, house jacking," Ramos Diaz said of what she sees now.

Father Mario Manriquez is reliant on government money to help fund programs to keep kids off the streets.
CBS News

Father Mario Manriquez told CBS News the cartels prey on the poor kids of his parish. One eight-year-old boy was forced to deliver drugs, others were given guns to be assassins. Manriquez said he fought back with federal money to build a park and run programs to keep kids off the streets. But this year the federal money was frozen. Now he fears the death toll will rise again.

"I don't want to think about this," said Manriquez when asked what would happen if he doesn't get the money.

Sunday there was a mass was for the victims of violence. The faithful pinned prayers on these boards. Father Manriquez burned the pieces of paper to send the prayers to heaven.

Maria Torres said she prays for the strength to carry on. She said she sees her children in the eyes of her grandchildren. In these eyes are the hurt and the hope of this city.

  • Bill Whitaker

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter