Bogota: The use of children to transport small quantities of drugs in Colombia increased this year by 18 percent over 2009, according to a National Police report published Monday by the daily El Tiempo.
The document says that 7,682 minors were arrested for transporting drugs up through Dec 5, compared with 6,509 in 2009.
"There exists a very thin line, where someone who transports has the risk of consuming" drugs, Lt. Col. Pompy Pinzon, the commander of the police`s children and teenagers division, told the daily.
Meanwhile, the police commander in the central province of Cundinamarca, Col. Fabio Castaneda, said that children are often seen in this region jumping into the Magdalena River to transport drugs to the other bank, a task for which they are paid up to 15,000 pesos (less than $8).
El Tiempo reported that in September in the southwestern province of Cauca two boys, aged two and four, were used to camouflage 19 kilos of cocaine inside a vehicle.
According to Senator Gilma Jimenez, who is known for her work in defense of children`s rights, drug traffickers took advantage of the fact that the Penal Responsibility System for Adolescents, in force since 2006, does not establish any penalties for drug trafficking.
The police report also reflects an increase in the number of minors arrested for robbery from 7,608 in 2009 to 7,941 up through Dec 5 of this year.