Skip to ArticleSkip to Radioplayer

Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas

Now reading piece 7 of 7

zetas photo

Credit: Josiah Hooper for CIR

“Generation Z” investigates a terrifying aspect of the drug wars that have raged along the U.S.-Mexico border: the recruitment of child soldiers by the Zetas, a notoriously violent gang of ex-military commandos. For more than a decade, cartels have been battling for control of smuggling routes along the border. The violence has devastated nearby towns and claimed the lives of some 60,000 people.

The Zetas have seized control of a key city, Nuevo Laredo, and dominate the highly lucrative smuggling route across the Rio Grande Valley into Laredo, Texas. To sustain its power, the gang has turned increasingly to the recruitment of adolescents – on both sides of the border – to serve as lookouts, extortionists, drug mules and killers.

Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas

"Generation Z" investigates a terrifying aspect of the drug wars that have raged along the U.S.-Mexico border: the recruitment of child soldiers by the Zetas, a notoriously violent gang of ex-military commandos. For more than a decade, cartels have been battling for control of smuggling routes along the border.

Producer: Josiah Hooper
Senior Producer: Stephen Talbot
Associate Producers: Rachel de Leon and Adam Grossberg
Executive Producer: Susanne Reber
Editor: Angela Reginato
Additional Reporting: Ana Arana and Andrew Becker
Additional Editing: Andrew Gersh
Camera: Josiah Hooper
Additional Camera: Jared Moossy and Sharon Pieczenik
Co-Producers: Daffodil J. Altan, Bruce Livesey and Angela Reginato