07/30/11 — The Mexican Juvenile Court (Tribunal Único de Justicia para Adolescentes, TUJA) sentenced 14-year-old Édgar Jiménez Lugo, known as “El Ponchis,” to three years in juvenile prison for murder, kidnapping, and trafficking cocaine. Three years is the maximum sentence for adolescents in Morelos, the state where Jiménez grew up and the location of the crimes he committed. Jiménez, a U.S. citizen who was born in San Diego, California, was arrested in December of 2010 while boarding a plane from Cuernavaca, Morelos to Tijuana, Baja California. It is assumed he was leaving Mexico for the United States.
Jiménez was found guilty for the murder of four individuals who were left hung on a bridge in Morelos in August of 2010. The murders were linked to the South Pacific drug cartel (el Cartel del Pacífico Sur, CPS), formerly known as the Beltrán Leyva cartel, which Jiménez allegedly worked for. He claimed he began murdering at the age of 11, and was given drugs and $200 a month by cartel leaders for the killings. According to Los Angeles Times, due to the graphic nature of the crimes he committed and Jiménez’s youth and unremorseful behavior, the people of Mexico were shocked by the case.
Questions and skepticism arose regarding Jiménez’s eight-day oral trial and sentencing as his defense failed to present witnesses in his favor, nor was any of the boy’s family in attendance. The TUJA initially stated up to 65 people would be called to testify against Jiménez. The Human Rights Commission of Morelos (La Comisión de Derechos Humanos del estado de Morelos) has since stated the prison where Jiménez will serve his sentence is unfit due to lack of food, poor sanitation, and other violations of prisoners’ rights. The Commission also predicted that Jiménez will “most likely” return to the streets and organized crime upon his release in three years, saying he would not be able to reinstated into society, as reported by Grupo Formula.