July 27, 2011 / 5:59 AM / 9 years ago

Mexico sentences teenage hitman to 3 years in prison

Edgar Jimenez Lugo, known as "El Ponchis", is presented to the media in Cuernavaca December 3, 2010. REUTERS/Margarito Perez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A court in Mexico on Tuesday sentenced a 14-year-old U.S. citizen and drug gang hitman to three years in a juvenile prison for murder, kidnapping and trafficking cocaine.

Edgar Jimenez, known as “El Ponchis,” worked for the South Pacific drug cartel in Morelos state outside Mexico City until his capture by Mexican soldiers in December, when he attempted to travel to the United States.

The attorney general’s office in Morelos said a local juvenile court had found the minor guilty of four crimes including killing four people whose mutilated bodies were found hanging from a bridge not far from Mexico City last August.

An army statement in December said Jimenez had admitted killing at least seven people under the influence of drugs provided by the cartel’s leader.

Minors have increasingly been drawn into the Mexican government’s conflict with drug gangs, which has claimed around 40,000 lives in 4 1/2 years.

Mexicans have become used to hearing about death in recent years, but Jimenez’s youth and the brutal nature of his crimes caused shock when the reports surfaced last year.

It is not clear what his nickname refers to.

Reporting by Elinor Comlay; editing by Todd Eastham

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