The Teen Killers of the Drug War

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Photo: The New Yorker
Media Outlet: The New YOrker

Patrick Radden Keefe write for The New Yorker about child soldiers in the drug war on the US-Mexico border:

After Gabriel Cardona was sentenced, in 2009, press photographers took his picture through a pane of protective glass, as if he were some exotic beast. There was something unthinkable about what he had become, a ghoulish contradiction too awful for the culture to assimilate: a child assassin. Yet there he sat, in pristine white prison scrubs, reciting a catalogue of macabre achievements in the matter-of-fact tones of a college interview. When Cardona was arrested, he was nineteen, and his delicate-featured face retained a dissonant boyishness. But he blinked when he spoke, in nervous flurries, and his interlocutors found themselves staring at a tattoo of a second set of eyes, blue-black and smudgy, that had been inked onto his eyelids.


Patrick Radden Keefe was a Class of 2017 Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and the author of Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping, and The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream