Medellin police announced that since September last year they have captured eight criminal band members that are dedicated to the recruitment and training of minors to carry out illegal activities for the group, reported El Espectador.
According to reports, the band members, who belong to a criminal group called “La Agonia,” were tasked with recruiting and training minors in the department capital to carry out activities including theft, drug-trafficking and murder.
Medellin police commander, Colonel Luis Eduardo Martinez, said, “We have reason to believe that they succeeded in recruiting 30 minors, who were taken to work in various parts of the country where the band worked.”
Martinez explained that the minors “were made to run errands, extortions and do things related to drugs … Almost the majority of the bands in Bajo Cauca are boys from here, from the neighborhoods.”
So far this year Medellin police have seized 275 children, between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. Five of them for murder, ten for personal injury, 38 for illegally carrying weapons, seven for extortion and 215 for drug trafficking.
Police indicated that the majority of recruitment is achieved through the “seduction” of the minors, who are promised money for their work.
However, a study by Colombian NGO Corpades – who are dedicated to the subject of child recruitment – found that “forced recruitment is a reality in Medellin .. Many children and youths are pressured into joining criminal bands, otherwise they or their families may be threatened.”
The NGO also found that on many occasions minors are recruited from Colombia and sent to work in other countries, with 50 known cases of Colombian children being sent to work in the drug trade in Mexico and other countries in Latin America.