At first, the massacre of nine Americans — six of them children — looked like a horrible case of mistaken targeting by drug cartels in Mexico. Now that one suspect has been arrested, CNN reports that this likely wasn’t a case of mistaken identity after all. The attack may have been part of an ongoing feud between the families and the cartels:
The police found the one suspect still holding hostages, although it’s not clear whether they were connected to the victims of the massacre itself:
A suspect has been arrested in the massacre of nine family members from a Mormon community on the Mexican side of the border with the United States, Mexican authorities said Tuesday.
The Ministerial Agency for Criminal Investigations (AMIC) said it has detained an individual who was holding two bound and gagged hostages in the hills of Agua Prieta in the state of Sonora.
The suspect had several rifles and a large amount of ammunition, including a number of large-caliber weapons, the agency said in a statement posted to its official Facebook page.
ABC 15 in Phoenix suggests that the family got caught up in a turf war between the Sinaloa cartel and its new spinoff/rival Los Jaguares. US officials consider yet another spinoff/rival, La Línea, a more likely suspect. The lack of cohesion among Sinaloa units might have started with the US capture of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, which reduces their overall effectiveness but has the shorter-term effect of making everything more chaotic and dangerous.
On the other hand, this may not have been a mistake or a gang war at all. One of the families involved has had conflicts with the cartels in the past, and it’s not the first time they’ve suffered at their hand:
“Cartels have taken too many of our family members,” said family member Kendra Lee Miller, adding those killed Monday were “not the first.”
One of the women killed might have been a particular target. She had been fighting with the cartels over water rights and over drug-related violence, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda noted:
“They had stood up to the drug cartels and they did have certain frictions either with the cartels or with neighboring communities over water rights,” said Castañeda, who left office in 2003.
“Their long-standing tensions, and apparently the woman who was driving in the first car that was attacked was an activist. She was someone who was very active in her community, defending her family, her fellow members of the community against cartels, on the issue of water rights,” he said, describing one of the three women killed.
Castañeda also said the larger LeBaron community had been protected by 90 federal police since 2011 because of tensions between the family and cartels.
That protection was withdrawn to some degree by the current government this year, he said, adding that it was unclear whether all 90 officers were withdrawn or just some of them.
So … the Mexican government knew the family was at risk and withdrew their protection anyway? That puts a much different spin on the ambush and massacre, although it doesn’t make it any less heinous. It just potentially spreads responsibility further for the atrocity. This makes it sound as though the government took the cartels’ side in this “dispute” and knew exactly what would come next.
Will Donald Trump have anything to say about that? He wanted to partner with the López Obrador government to wage “WAR” against the cartels yesterday. He might want to check to see which side of that war López Obrador plans to join.