Mexican 'hitboy' jailed after hanging rivals

A Mexican judge has sentenced a 14-year-old US citizen to three years in prison for murder, kidnapping and drug and weapons possession. Authorities say the boy confessed to killing four people whose beheaded bodies were found suspended from a bridge.

Edgar Jimenez Lugo, known as "el Ponchis" (the Cloak), was given the maximum sentenced allowed for a minor in the central state of Morelos. He was tried in a state court because Mexico does not have a justice system to try minors at the federal level.

Mexican prosecutors said the teenage killer was 14 years old and that he had confessed to working for the South Pacific drug cartel, led by reputed drug lord Hector Beltran Leyva.

When he was handed over to federal prosecutors, the boy said in front of cameras that he had participated in four killings while drugged and under threat. The bodies were found in the tourist city of Cuernavaca. In November, stories of a hitboy, maybe as young as 12, spread after a YouTube video appeared with teenagers mugging for the camera next to corpses and guns. One boy alleged that "el Ponchis" was his accomplice.

Jimenez was born in San Diego, California. He and a sister were arrested in December as they tried to board a flight to Tijuana, where they planned to cross the border and reunite with their mother in San Diego.

The teenager has been in a detention centre in Morelos since his arrest and will serve his time there, prosecutors said. The two siblings allegedly worked for Julio "el Negro" Padilla, a reputed drug trafficker who authorities say has been fighting for control of the drug trade in Morelos.