Three years after the startling arrest of a 14-year-old boy for acting as a gang’s assassin in Mexico, the boy, now 17, is reportedly heading to the United States, according to media and government reports. Edgar Jimenez, nicknamed El Ponchis — “The Cloak” — is a U.S. citizen who was born in San Diego.
Jimenez, whose name is also given as Edgar Jimenez Lugo, was arrested in December 2010 as he and his sisters were attempting to leave Mexico and seek refuge with a relative in San Diego. At least one of his sisters is also believed to have aided the drug cartel by disposing of bodies.
Curly-haired and skinny at the time of his arrest, Jimenez shocked observers when he told authorities that he had begun killing people after being kidnapped at age 11.
Jimenez told police in the central Mexican state of Morelos that his extreme acts — he was found guilty of slitting the throats of four people — were done out of fear for his own life and other inducements, including being paid $200 a week. Some of his crimes were purportedly posted on YouTube; photos on a phone in his possession showed images of other victims.
In 2011, the teen was sentenced to serve three years at a juvenile detention center; he was released a week early.
Calling him the “boy assassin,” El Pais reports that Jimenez was taken to the airport in Mexico City Tuesday under heavy guard. Officials decided to return him to the U.S. out of fears for his safety, the newspaper reports. It also notes that Jimenez learned to read during his sentence.
The circumstances of Jimenez’s release were confirmed in a series of tweets from Jorge Messeguer, secretary of the state government in Morelos. Messeguer said this morning that the teenager had been freed at dawn, and is transferring to the U.S., “his country of origin.”
Yesterday, Messeguer wrote that the government’s intent was to help Jimenez rehabilitate himself.
“The interest of @ GobiernoMorelos is that Edgar “N” known as “El Ponchis” has the best conditions because he was also a victim,” he wrote.
According to El Pais, the plan is also motivated by fears that gang members might kill Jimenez — the newspaper says 12 other teens who have left the juvenile system have been murdered in the past two years.
Next up for Jimenez, The Los Angeles Times says, is a trip to a “support center” in the U.S., citing an interview given by Messeguer. He is believed to have family in Texas. U.S. officials said that while they are aware of the teen’s release, they cannot disclose details about his future, due to privacy concerns.