Cartel violence has gotten so bad in an indigenous area of Guerrero, Mexico that locals have formed an armed militia with boys as young as 6

Mexican children take up arms in fight against drug gangs

With baseball caps and scarves covering their faces, only their serious eyes are visible as a dozen children stand to attention, rifles by their side.

In the heart of the violence-plagued Mexican state of Guerrero, learning to use weapons starts at an early age.

In the village of Ayahualtempa, at the foot of a wooded hill, the basketball court serves as a training ground for these youths, aged between five and 15.

The children practice with rifles and handguns or makeshift weapons in various drill positions for a few hours every week.Guerrero is one of the poorest and most violent parts of Mexico, with one of the country’s highest murder rates because of drug gang wars over the trade in opium and marijuana.

In the face of indifference from the authorities, 600 people voluntarily joined the militia force to fight organized crime. They included children.