Mexico frees teen cartel killer, to leave for US - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Mexico frees teen cartel killer, to leave for US

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In this Dec. 3, 2010 file photo, Mexican soldiers present Edgar "El Ponchis" Jimenez Lugo to the media in the city of Cuernavaca, Mexico. In this Dec. 3, 2010 file photo, Mexican soldiers present Edgar "El Ponchis" Jimenez Lugo to the media in the city of Cuernavaca, Mexico.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A 17-year-old U.S. citizen who acknowledged being a killer for a Mexican drug cartel finished his three-year juvenile-offender term for homicide, kidnapping and drug and weapons possession and returned to the United States.

The interior secretary of southern Morelos state, Jorge Messeguer, said Edgar Jimenez Lugo had been released, though he added it wasn't clear if the teen had been rehabilitated.

"Being able to say whether he's been rehabilitated, that would be risky. I wouldn't really dare say that, because obviously the crimes he committed were so severe," Messeguer said.

He said Jimenez went to San Antonio, Texas, where he has family and apparently will go to a residential support facility there, though he didn't know its name.

It does not appear Jimenez faces any charges in the United States. The U.S. Embassy said it would not publicly discuss the case due to privacy considerations.

The embassy said in a statement that it was "closely coordinating with our Mexican counterparts and appropriate authorities in the United States" regarding the release.

In 2011, at age 14, Jimenez confessed to killing four people whose beheaded bodies were found suspended from a bridge.

He was born in San Diego, California, but was raised in Mexico by his grandmother. Authorities quoted Jimenez as saying he had been forcibly recruited by drug traffickers when he was 11 and confessing to working for the South Pacific drug cartel, led by reputed drug lord Hector Beltran Leyva.

Jimenez was trying to return to the United States when he was caught in 2010.

He and a sister were arrested in Morelos, south of Mexico City, as they tried to board a plane to Tijuana, where they planned to cross the border and reunite with their mother in San Diego. When he was handed over to federal prosecutors, the boy calmly said in front of cameras that he participated in four killings while drugged and under threat. The bodies were found in the tourist city of Cuernavaca, which is in Morelos.

Jimenez served his three-year sentence, the maximum for juveniles, at a juvenile detention center in Morelos.

The states was formerly controlled by the Beltran Leyva gang, which broke up after alleged leader Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a shootout with Mexican marines in 2009.

This is a story update. The previous story is below.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego-born teenager who served three years in a Mexican juvenile jail after admitting to beheading four people at the behest of a drug cartel completed his sentence Tuesday and was expected to relocate to Texas.

Edgar Jimenez Lugo, 17, left the Morelos state detention center Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, which reported that it was "closely coordinating with our Mexican counterparts and appropriate authorities in the United States" regarding the youth's release.

Jimenez was scheduled to fly to San Antonio to live with relatives and undergo counseling, according to news reports.

The youth was arrested in Cuernavaca in December 2010 at age 14 on suspicion of murdering rivals of a Mexican gang whose leaders had recruited him and paid him for the hits. At the time of his capture, he and an older sister reportedly were en route to San Diego to live with their mother.

Jimenez admitting to committing the crimes, starting at age 11, though he said a cartel "enforcer" had threatened to kill him if he refused to carry them out, according to law enforcement officials in Mexico.

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