A group of teen hitmen in Mexico accused of working for drug cartels escaped from jail Thursday after digging through a detention center wall, Reuters reported.

The 17 boys, called "narco juniors," scraped their way through a brick wall using an iron rod at a Tijuana juvenile detention center near the U.S. border.

"They made a hole and no one noticed. Then they hit two guards with the rod and made it through the wall," a spokesman for Baja California state police told Reuters.

Police launched a helicopter search for the escaped teenagers, accused of trafficking drugs or working as hitmen in the border city across from San Diego, Calif.

There have been more than 20 jailbreaks in Mexico so far this year, and President Felipe Calderon has made fighting drug violence a priority for his administration.

Some 12,800 people have been killed in Mexico's three-way drug war between rivals and the country's security forces since late 2008, Reuters reported.

Click here to read the full Reuters report.