Youth gone wild? Increase in violent juvenile crime worries judge

The case loads are heavy and Judge Jesse Contreras told Action 4 News they are increasing every day.

Overall the Valley has seen an increase in juvenile violent crimes," Contreras said.

In recent months, that increase has overwhelmed the 449th State District Court in Hidalgo County as they prepare to take on several high-profile cases.

All of the cases involved children who have allegedly committed heinous crimes.

Judge Contreras attributed the increase to many factors including poverty and a single parent household.

According to the judge, 95 percent of the kids who walk through those courtroom doors are being raised solely by their mother.

But the biggest factor of all may just be Hidalgo County TMs proximity to the border.

"You have the dynamics of the gangs and drug cartels, Contreras explained. All of that is working into this mix that is creating this high increase in juvenile crime."

In April, a 15-year-old was charged with 9 counts of murder and 17 counts of human smuggling after he flipped the van he was driving---killing nine illegal immigrants.

Months later, a 16-year-old was jailed for attempted capital murder for allegedly shooting an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

And just recently, another 16-year-old was arrested, police said, for kidnapping a woman at gunpoint and holding her hostage.

The state is requesting that all three be charged as adults.

"We just can't give up, Contreras said. We have to fight harder for them--we need to make those efforts and save the kids."