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Edgar Jimenez Lugo, or "El Ponchis," is an admitted member of Mexico's Beltran Leyva drug cartel and a four-time murderer. And, as of early this morning, he's a free man. Although he's not really a man; at 17, he's still a year shy of adulthood. And after serving three years in a juvenile detention center for his crimes, he's heading back to America, where he's a citizen.

Lugo was arrested December 2010. Then just 14, he'd already killed four people. He told authorities he did so while under the influence of drugs and under threat of death. His victims' headless bodies were founded hanging from a bridge. He said he committed his first murder at age 11.

By then, he hadn't gone to school in years -- he dropped out in third grade, after his grandmother and legal guardian died. She had taken Lugo and his five siblings from their parents in San Diego to Mexico.

After Lugo's arrest, his father admitted to the Los Angeles Times that he "neglected him a little."

Lugo was sentenced to three years in jail in July 2011 -- the maximum penalty that can be given to a minor under Mexican law. He's served that, and now he's headed to either San Antonio (as the LA Times is reporting) or El Paso (according to the New York Daily News), where he has family and will stay in a "support center," according to the LA Times.

The governor of the Mexican state of Morelos, where Lugo was held, seemed hopeful as to his chances of leading a lawful life from here on out, saying his rehabilitation thus far had been "notable." But Morelos' interior secretary wasn't so sure, telling the AP: "Being able to say whether he's been rehabilitated, that would be risky. I wouldn't really dare say that, because obviously the crimes he committed were so severe."

Let's hope his story ends better than that of Iván Adrián Pizaña Rojano, who was released from a juvenile detention center at the age of 22 after serving five years for seven murders. Fifty-seven days after his release, he was arrested and charged with murder.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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