Suspected Mexican teen assassin, 16, linked to 50 killings

MEXICO CITY Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:25pm EDT

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican prosecutors said Thursday they were investigating a 16-year-old suspected hitman who was believed to have participated in at least 50 murders while working for a drug gang.

A spokesman for prosecutors in the northeastern state of Sinaloa said the teenager, identified as Francisco Miguel N., was part of a gang known as Los Mazatlecos, a criminal group attached to the Beltran Leyva drugs cartel.

Police arrested the teen for carrying a loaded gun and drugs. He later confessed to working as a hitman for the group, local prosecutors said in a statement.

The teenager said he had taken part in executions of police, farmers and even a musician since February.

The 16-year-old, one of whose nicknames was "El Nino" or "The Boy," said he was given an AK-47 rifle and a pistol to carry out the various attacks in Sinaloa, a violent coastal state with a long tradition of drug trafficking.

Sinaloa is home to the powerful drug cartel of the same name, led by Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman. Once allied to Guzman, the Beltran Leyva gang has fought with him since breaking from the Sinaloa cartel in 2008.

A number of teenagers have been captured working for drug gangs, lured by the prospect of quick money. In June 2011, a group of six teenage drug gang members were captured after a shootout with police in central Mexico.

Turf wars between the gangs and their clashes with security forces have killed more than 55,000 people during the rule of outgoing President Felipe Calderon.

(Reporting By Dave Graham; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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