A state prosecutor in western Mexico says authorities broke up a fake private security company that was used to recruit for a drug cartel.

Jalisco state prosecutor Jesus Eduardo Almaguer said 13 people were arrested, including a U.S. woman who allegedly led the recruitment effort from the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta.

Almaguer said flyers with a phone number and email address were distributed offering rapid career advancement, salaries higher than those paid by government security agencies and year-end bonuses. Recruits were given a week of weapons training using paintball guns.

Authorities discovered the scheme when one recruit tried to leave and was held for a ransom of 1 million pesos ($55,500). His family called authorities.

Almaguer told reporters Wednesday that the recruits were required to make street-level drug sales.