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Growing Number Of Latino Youths In Juvenile Hall For Drug Offenses

A new report finds that the number of youths in juvenile hall in San Diego County is on the rise, and made up primarily of Hispanics.

— Despite treatment and prevention services for those at risk of entering the juvenile-justice system, in the last couple of years, more than 5,000 San Diego youths have passed through county correctional facilities. A majority were allegedly involved in gang activity and about half are Latino.

According to the report by the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, the most common violations are assault, property theft, and drug-related offenses, including consumption and trafficking. Proximity to the border and aggressive recruitment of U.S. youths by Mexican drug cartels are to blame, the report said.

A San Diego County District Attorney Spokesman, Jesse Navarro, met with a group of Latino parents in San Diego recently and said he was concerned that about half of all local youth in juvenile hall are Latino.

Young people are "easy prey" for the cartels who want to move drug shipments across the border, Navarro said. He added that most don't realize that transporting drugs across the border is a federal offense.

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