SAN DIEGO - A San Diego-born teenager convicted in Mexico of beheading four young men on behalf of a drug cartel could be back in the United States by the end of the year or sooner, it was reported Thursday.
Edgar Jimenez Lugo, 17, has asked to be transferred to the United States, juvenile court authorities in Mexico and a relative there said, according to U-T San Diego.
Lugo -- who was just 14 when he killed a student, a cook, a gas station attendant and a small-business owner in August 2010 -- is serving a three-year sentence at a juvenile detention center in Morelos, just south of Mexico City and is scheduled to get out in December, according to the newspaper. He was arrested four months after the killings in Mexico.
On Friday, Ana Virinia Perez, president of the Morelos juvenile court system, told reporters in Mexico that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City had until July 31 to decide on the transfer request.
It was not clear whether the request was made directly by Lugo or on his behalf by U.S. authorities, who declined to comment, U-T San Diego reported.
If the transfer goes through, Lugo could possibly face conspiracy charges in the U.S. based on possible links to cross-border drug smuggling networks, though it seemed unlikely.
"It's probably for humanitarian reasons -- just to get him in a better spot up here rather than to prosecute him," former federal prosecutor John Kirby told U-T San Diego. Kirby previously coordinated international issues at the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.
Lugo was born in San Diego in 1996 to drug addicted parents who had immigrated to the U.S. illegally and lost custody of Lugo after cocaine was found in his system at birth. He and his five siblings were eventually adopted and raised in a working-class village in Mexico by Lugo's parental grandmother, who died in 2004.
Following his grandmother's death, Lugo dropped out of elementary school and got by with limited family supervision, U-T San Diego reported.