In one Texas border county, more than 25 juveniles were arrested for drug trafficking within a year.
That same year, DPS apprehended a 12-year-old boy in a border county driving a stolen truck containing more than 800 pounds of marijuana.
In July 2019 as conflict erupted in Tamaulipas between the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN) and Gulf Cartel (CDG), investigators noticed a surge in the recruitment and arrests of juveniles working with CDG.
The 2018 action film sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado dedicated significant runtime and plot points to this kind of process in the form of a teen boy from south Texas who is recruited to work for a fictionalized version of the Gulf Cartel.
While U.S. teens are lured with promise of access to easy drugs and money, Mexican teens are primarily targeted from impoverished neighborhoods who see the narco lifestyle as more achievable than becoming a lawyer or a doctor.