Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas
(30 min) Mexico/US

Saturday 10/25, 1:00 PM (Session 24)

Director/Producer: Josiah Hooper


Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas investigates a terrifying aspect of the drug wars that have raged along the US-Mexico border: the recruitment of child soldiers by the Zetas, the notoriously violent gang of ex-military commandos. For more than a decade, drug cartels have been battling for control of smuggling routes along the border. The violence has devastated nearby towns and claimed the lives of some 60,000 people. The Zetas seized control of one of the key cities in the region, Nuevo Laredo, and dominate the highly lucrative smuggling route across the Rio Grande into Laredo, Texas. To sustain their power, the Zetas have turned increasingly to the recruitment of adolescents – on both sides of the border – to serve as lookouts, extortionists, drug mules and killers. Generation Z explores the rise of the Zetas and their leader, Miguel Treviño, who aggressively pursued the strategy of recruiting child soldiers. The film includes two exclusive interviews with former Zeta child soldiers. One of them, Rosalio Reta, is now serving a prison sentence in Texas for murder. Reta tells the story of how Treviño recruited him one night on an isolated ranch in northern Mexico: “That’s when I first saw people getting executed, people getting burned alive. And that’s the first time that I had to shoot somebody. That very same night.”


Josiah Cooper is a freelance producer and director of photography in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was recently nominated for an Emmy award for his documentary Fruits of War, which follows four men who are deported to El Salvador and witness the birth of the gang epidemic in that country. His most recent work for Frontline World took him to Kenya with reporter Edwin Okong'o, part of the 2008 election website The World is Watching. The piece, entitled Sweet Home Obama, won the Webby's People's Choice Award. He regularly shoots for programs on PBS station KQED in San Francisco and teaches television production at a local high school, while developing independent projects for broadcast and the web.

Contact information:

The Center For Investigative Reporting


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