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Teen killer's light sentence dismays a violence-weary Mexico

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The killings and kidnappings that Jimenez was charged with riled Mexico last year, after the boy confessed on camera to his participation in the killings for a major criminal organization. He said he was threatened and drugged while committing crimes. "I slit their throats," Jimenez said.

Jimenez was born in San Diego, where his mother lives, but brought to Mexico by his father when he was a baby. He dropped out of school. He was arrested last December while attempting to board a flight to Tijuana with his sister.

The three-year sentence was not a surprise: it is the maximum allowed for Morelos, outside Mexico City, where the crimes were perpetrated. While organized crime cases are federal, there are no mechanisms in place to try minors at that level.

'It could have been a warning'

Still those Mexicans who sought to make the stunning case a lesson on consequences for other children were disappointed.

“This could have been a warning for others,” says Alicia Garcia, walking in the park with her son and dog on a brisk morning, who adds that even though the laws are different for minors and adults, “he committed the crimes of an adult.”

Teens and those even younger have long joined gangs in Central America, perpetrated horrific violence in Brazil, formed armies in Africa, and killed for cults, for revenge at school, and themselves.

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