Saturday, March 17

Brazilian children are killing at the age of 11 years-old

Child Soldiers in the Drug Wars

By Jens Glüsing

They have barely reached puberty, but already Rio's teenagers have picked up weapons to fight in the ongoing drug wars. Brazilian gangs prefer using children to do their dirty work -- their prison sentences are shorter.

Ricardo M. was 11 years old when he killed a person for the first time. It was night, and about 20 boys had gathered at the highest point in the favela. With hunting rifles and assault weapons slung over their shoulders and handguns stuck into the waistbands of their Bermuda shorts, it looked as if a war were about to break out in this poverty-stricken neighborhood on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. After an evening spent snorting cocaine, the boys were high and completely uninhibited.

A whimpering teenager, his face disfigured from the beating he had just taken, knelt at their feet. He had been tortured with cigarettes and blades. For the boys, he was nothing but what they called an "X9" -- a traitor who had informed on a gang member. The penalty was death.

The gang leader pressed a .38 caliber revolver into Ricardo's hand. Holding the heavy weapon with both hands, Ricardo held it against the offender's head and pulled the trigger. The other boys applauded and slapped Ricardo on the back. He had passed the initiation rite for membership in "Terceiro Comando," Rio's second-largest criminal organization. From then on he would be a "soldier" of the Mafia. Together with the other boys, Ricardo dragged the dead boy into a ditch, poured gasoline on the body and lit a match. "I felt nothing," he says today. "I was too high." continue reading here.

This is only part of the story.

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