The trial for the now 15-year-old alleged assassin known as “El Ponchis” began Monday. The young man is on trial in Mexico for murder, kidnapping, drug dealing, and weapons possession.
At just 14, Edgar “El Ponchis” Jimenez was arrested by Mexican soldiers in December and publicly confessed to killing four men whose bodies were found hanging from a highway overpass last summer. It is believed he began his criminal career at the age of 11.
Even if convicted, Jimenez faces just three years in prison since he is being charged as a minor. Though he has been residing in central Mexico, he was born in San Diego, California, and as a U.S. citizen, he is entitled to move to the U.S. after/if he serves time in prison.
The trial will be closed to the public, and is expected to take about two weeks. The case will be heard by a single juvenile judge in Cuernavaca, where he was arrested when attempting to board a flight en route to Tijuana to continue on to San Diego to join his mother.
Only family of both the boy and his victims will be allowed in the court room, along with the 65 witnesses expected to testify. No media is allowed in.
The location of he trial is being kept secret.
Since President Calderon declared his war on the drug trade in 2006, roughly 40,000 people have died in drug-related violence. The case of “El Ponchis” only suits to highlight that there has been a surge in the number of minors being prosecuted for organized crimes.
Juan Carlos Castro, a juvenile court official told the Houston Chronicle, “Organized crime seeks out these young people because they face almost nothing as far as punishment.”
Two of Jimenez’s sisters have also been arrested for their part in the drug world, and all three are accused of working for Julio “El Negro” Radilla, local boss of the Beltran Levya cartel (Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva). The cartel was once aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, but are now allies of Los Zetas.
Nearly, 4,000 minors have been detained in connection to cartel violence since 2006, according to the Mexican attorney general’s office. A recent congressional report estimated that 23,000 young people have been recruited by gangs in Mexico.