The number of minors caught smuggling drugs from Mexico to Arizona surged 83 percent in 2009, USA Today reported July 7.
Last year, 130 minors were arrested on drug charges by the U.S. Border Patrol, part of what officials call a small but growing trend.
Cartels entice the youths, usually American citizens with family in Mexico, with promises of cash and light sentences if they are caught. Many of these teens are surprised when they receive serious jail time, officials said.
“One thing for sure,” said Teresa Small, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman in San Luis. “They will get the hardest punishment possible.”