Mexican cartel kidnaps five kids after ‘recruiting them through video game’

Five children were kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel after they were recruited into the organisation through an online video game.

Police officers from the state of Oaxaca in the south of the country managed to rescue the boys on Saturday.

The five lads, aged between 12 and 15, were recruited by a 13-year-old working on behalf of the Northeast Cartel.

The Northeast Cartel, formed in 2014 by disgruntled members of the notoriously violent Los Zetas, targeted the boys in a WhatsApp group linked to the Garena Free Fire multiplayer game.

The victims were then taken from their homes in the municipality of Tlacolula de Matamoro and transferred to a safe house to be indoctrinated into the cartel.

However, the traffickers' plan was foiled when one of the boys' distressed parents found a letter left behind by their son.

The letter said he was going on an 800-mile journey to the northern city of Monterrey, and that he'd be sending plenty of cash back home.

Police were alerted, and they managed to ping the boys' mobile phones to a bus station where their tickets north had been purchased, according to local news outlets.

Police found them at a safe house in the city of Santa Lucía del Camino where a woman claimed the boys had just come for a birthday party. She was arrested and could be charged before a judge in the coming days.

Two of the boys, both 12, where identified as Dan Aguilar and Jesús Avendaño.

Avedaño's mother took to social media on Sunday to explain exactly how her son had been recruited, revealing that his initial meeting with the boy working for the cartel had occurred at a video game shop some weeks before.

She said: "This kid was always showing him money, up to 10,000 pesos (£355) and would tell him that he made it working.

"That boy met them right there and proposed things to them, all in the video games.

"This kid invited them to play yesterday [Saturday] and they took their phones when they were all together and took them from Tlacolula.

"While there, they were only allowed to talk to their parents once and then turned off their phones."

Authorities have not yet figured out whether other kids in Oaxaca have been recruited by the Northeast Cartel, but cartels targeting young boys is not a new phenomenon.

As with most modern Mexican cartels, the Northeast Cartel dabbles in extortion, human trafficking, and bribery as well as drug trafficking.

The group is currently in the midst of a bloody war with Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel for control over the state of Tamaulipas, hence their need for new recruits.

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