AUSTIN (KXAN) - Six of the seven Mexican drug cartels have established command and control networks in Texas and are recruiting high school and even middle school-aged children and students to support their drug, human, currency and weapon smuggling operations on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border, according tothe Texas Department of Public Safety.
"That scares me. I think there's enough people here already selling. We don't need anymore," said Stephanie Worrell.
Worrell is a parent of three children who attend Hutto schools.
"I think it's scary and I think they need to go home," she said.
"I wouldn't think it being this far up in Austin, you think about it maybe in the border towns and down South, but not necessarily here. But, yeah, it's definitely something I would take more notice of," said another Hutto parent, Stacy Davis.
DPS warns parents and advises them to talk to their children and explain that the cartels are ruthless organizations and that there are risks in dealing with them. Parents living along the Texas-Mexico border are especially cautioned.
"I think hearing about drugs in general is something that we as parents need to be concerned about at all times," said Linda Kay. "Talk to them every single day, not once a week, but every single day because it can happen so quickly."
In one Texas border county, more than 25 juveniles have been arrested for drug trafficking within the past year. Last month, two Texas teenagers were lured to Mexico where they were kidnapped, beaten, ransomed and released in a remote area along the Rio Grande River.
Last week, DPS apprehended a 12-year-old boy in a border county driving a stolen pickup truck containing more than 800 pounds of marijuana.
"Mexican Cartels have corrupted nearly an entire generation of youth living in northern Mexico and they seek to corrupt our youth as well to further their smuggling operations" said Steven C. McCraw, DPS director. "The Mexican Cartels value Texas teenagers for their ability to serve as expendable labor in many different roles and they have unlimited resources to recruit our children."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection developed "Operation Detour," an educational campaign warning high school students of the consequences of becoming involved with smuggling.
County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve the buyout of 23 homes in the Timber Creek neighborhood.
Willie Nelson's nine-hole golf course in Briarcliff is up for sale and the asking price is $3 million, according to a local real estate website.
The lawyer for embattled District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg argued Wednesday that the civil trial aimed at removing her from office should be dismissed.
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pontiff who won hearts and headlines with his humility and common touch, was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2013.
When Dawn Erin decided to seek health coverage for the first time in two decades, she was prepared for the red-tape run-around.
An historic early December cold spell is slowly waning, but temperatures will remain well below average for a couple more days.