MEXICO CITY — A 14-year-old U.S. citizen charged in Mexico as having worked as a drug cartel hitman was found guilty of homicide on Tuesday and sentenced to three years in prison, the maximum for minors.
Edgar Jimenez Lugo, who was born in San Diego, allegedly worked for the Beltran Leyva brothers' drug cartel in Morelos state, outside Mexico City.
The attorney general's office in Morelos said a local juvenile court had convicted him of various crimes — including killing four people whose mutilated bodies were found hanging from a bridge not far from Mexico City last August.
The boy was caught last December as he boarded a plane in the city of Cuernavaca. He was traveling to the border city of Tijuana with two of his sisters, one of whom is believed to be the lover of one of the cartel's bosses, the Mexican army said at the time.
Jimenez first made headlines last November as reports of his grisly murders, including beheadings, surfaced.
Once arrested, he acknowledged having killed at least seven people under the influence of drugs provided by a cartel leader, according to the army statement.
He was eventually charged in four murders and three kidnappings.
The Mexican daily newspaper La Razon said in November that Jimenez was paid $3,000 for each murder he committed.Story: Mexican teenage girls train as drug cartel killers
The three Jimenez siblings had wanted to cross to San Diego, where they have relatives.
Murders committed by minors, ranging from shoplifting to murder for the cartels, have risen across Mexico, officials say.
Parents in the violent cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana on the U.S. border say children as young as 8 want to grow up to be drug lords, as the thrills and wealth of the trafficking world touches their lives.
Reuters contributed to this report.