A suspect has been arrested in the shocking massacre of nine family members from a Mormon community on the Mexican side of the border with the United States, Mexican officials said Tuesday.
According to CNN, the suspect was holding two bound and gagged hostages in the hills of Agua Prieta in Sonora state. The suspect was found with several rifles and a large amount of ammunition, including a number of large-caliber weapons.
The arrest came a day after a convoy of women and children was viciously attacked by criminal groups while driving near the US-Mexico border, Mexican authorities said.
Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda told CNN that the LeBaron family had a history of conflict with Mexican drug cartels, which indicates that they may have been targeted, “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.”
Family member Kendra Lee Miller said, “Cartels have taken too many of our family members,” adding those killed on Monday were “not the first.”
“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,” he continued.
Castañeda, who was Mexico’s foreign minister for three years and left office in early 2003, said the broader LeBaron community had been receiving the protection of 90 federal police who were stationed around the community since 2011 because of tensions between the LeBarons and the cartel.
“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,” Castañeda said, describing one of the three women killed, without naming her.
⠀That protection was withdrawn to some extent by the current government earlier this year, according to Castañeda. It’s unclear whether all 90 policemen were removed or just a small amount of them, he added.