Mexican law enforcement officers have made an arrest in connection with a massacre that saw nine Americans killed in the state of Sonora on Monday, according to Mexican authorities.
In a statement posted on Facebook Tuesday, the top law enforcement agency in Sonora — a state along the Arizona-Mexico border ― said it had apprehended one heavily armed suspect who was holding two gagged hostages in a vehicle located in the town of Agua Prieta.
On Monday, nine members of an American family living in Sonora, including six children, died after being sprayed with assault rifle fire as they drove in a caravan from Mexico to the United States, according to Mexican authorities. Four other people were also injured in the attack, they said.
Various reports since the shooting have said the LeBaron family — a Mormon family that migrated from the U.S. to Mexico decades ago — may have been killed by gang members in Agua Prieta who believed they were attacking members of an opposing cartel.
Mexican officials have stopped short of assigning a motive to the shooting, but their Tuesday Facebook post attributed the massacre to “criminal groups.”
La Agencia de Investigación Criminal, Sonora’s top criminal investigation agency, said on Tuesday they’d found three charred vehicles riddled with bullet holes, dispersed miles apart on various north Mexican roads and containing nine dead bodies believed to belong to the LeBaron family. They said they recovered more than 200 shells from the three scenes combined which were fired from high-powered, 7-mm and .223 rifles.
A recent spate of violence in Mexico has elevated concerns about crime and public safety in a country already gripped by bloody gang wars. On Oct. 15, 13 Mexican police officers were killed in an ambush by a local cartel. Days later, another cartel ambush on Mexican security forces led to the release of a son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the infamous Mexican drug lord.
In response to calls from both Mexican and American officials demanding he be more forceful in suppressing the cartels, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a Wednesday press conference that a “war” between the gangs and the government would be ill-advised.
“It’s unfortunate, sad, because children died. This is painful,” López Obrador said. “But trying to resolve this problem by declaring a war? In our country, it’s been shown that this doesn’t work.”
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