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World Nine U.S. Citizens Killed in Highway Attack in Mexico

23:10  05 november  2019
23:10  05 november  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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Gunmen ambushed three SUVs carrying U . S . citizens , killing three women and six children, leading President Trump to call for a war on Mexican drug Officials are still piecing together an attack on a convoy of U . S . citizens by gunmen in northwestern Mexico , that left nine women and children dead.

MEXICO CITY — Assailants killed at least nine members of a fundamentalist Mormon community in Northern Mexico , authorities said Tuesday The victims were part of a community of U . S .- Mexican dual citizens who have lived in Mexico for decades. Drug traffickers in the region came under

MEXICO CITY—Gunmen in Mexico ambushed a convoy of SUVs carrying U.S. citizens, killing three women and six children and then setting them on fire, an incident that led President Trump to call for a war on Mexican drug cartels.

a view of a vehicle© Kenny Miller/Alex LeBaron via Associated Press

The victims, from a community in northwestern Mexico formed by members of a breakaway group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were traveling between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua when they were attacked in broad daylight Monday by unknown gunmen, Mexican officials said.

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Three women and six children were killed in an attack on members of a Mormon family as they traveled in Mexico on Monday, according to Mexican Members of the group have long lived in an area just south of Arizona where rival cartels are at war, fighting to secure smuggling routes close to

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Officials are not yet sure why the convoy was targeted. Mexican security minister Alfonso Durazo said the convoy may have been mistaken for members of one gang fighting another for control of the area’s drug trafficking routes, he said.

The details of the attack stunned people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The cars were carrying three mothers and 14 children. Among the dead were two eight-month old twins, family members said. Seven children survived the attack, including a 13-year old who, having watched his mother die, took the remaining children to hide in the woods and walked five hours to get help.

President Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. was ready and willing to help Mexico take on the drug cartels if the country needs or requests assistance.

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“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” he tweeted. He added that “the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador rejected the offer of military help Tuesday. “I think we don’t need intervention,” he said.

Since taking office last December, the leftist president declared Mexico’s drug war over, saying he would focus on alleviating the poverty that drives young men to join gangs rather than attacking the cartels themselves. He called the strategy “hugs, not bullets.”

But Mexico’s murder rate has hit record highs this year, and a string of recent massacres has called into question the president’s strategy.

Monday’s incident comes just two weeks after the Sinaloa cartel laid siege to the city of Culiacán after the military had arrested a son of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán. The coordinated attacks across the city forced the government to release El Chapo’s son in an embarrassing setback.

Loved ones arrive for funerals of 9 members of American family slain in Mexico

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Officials are still piecing together an attack on a convoy of U . S . citizens by gunmen in northwestern Mexico , that left nine women and children dead.

A United States citizen teenager from Oklahoma died and several of his relatives sustained gunshot injuries after a squad of Mexican cartel gunmen ambushed them in Mexico near the border with The family was traveling back to the U . S . when the cartel hitmen attacked them on a highway .

“Mr. Lopez Obrador’s strategy is clearly not working,” said María Elena Morera, the head of Causa en Común, an anticrime advocacy group. “He can’t keep thinking that a government using legitimate force against criminals is what generates violence.”

During the past five years, a surge in the trafficking of methamphetamine and synthetic opioids—which have increasingly taken the place of marijuana, cocaine and heroin—has led to increasing violence in the borderlands of Sonora and Chihuahua states, according to Cassius Wilkinson, a security analyst with consulting firm Empra in Mexico City.

Drug routes between the coastal city of Guaymas, in southern Sonora, and Sonoyta, in northern Sonora and across the border from Arizona, are controlled by the Los Salazar family, an affiliate of the Sinaloa cartel, Mr. Wilkinson said. These trafficking routes pass close to Latter-day Saints settlements.

Turf wars have escalated in the past two years between Los Salazar and the armed wing of the Juárez cartel, known as La Linea, which controls much of Chihuahua state. Police killings in Sonora doubled between 2018 and 2019 to about 20 this year, the result of cartel-related violence, according to Empra.

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A 13-year-old American girl was killed over the weekend after the vehicle she and her family were traveling in came under fire on a highway The girl' s 10-year-old brother, also a U . S . citizen , was injured in the attack , along with the children' s parents, who are Mexican nationals

MEXICO CITY—Gunmen in Mexico ambushed a convoy of SUVs carrying U . S . citizens , killing three women and six children and then setting them alight in an incident that led U . S . President Trump to call for a war on Mexican drug cartels. The victims, from a community in northwestern Mexico formed by

The latest killing Monday is likely to complicate the relationship with the U.S. Unlike other recent killings in Mexico, this time the victims are dual U.S. citizens and most are children, multiplying the impact on public opinion, said Jorge Chabat, an analyst at the University of Guadalajara.

“This will raise the temperature among conservative sectors in the U.S. precisely during election season,” Mr. Chabat said. “We can expect some difficult months ahead in terms of relations with the U.S.”

In response to the latest incident, Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Mexico is dangerously close to being a failed state. “Mexico’s president hasn’t taken the threat seriously and innocent lives have been lost again.” He said that Mexico must partner with the U.S. on a “full-scale offensive against these butchers.”

Mr. López Obrador said Tuesday he wouldn’t change his government’s strategy, saying the war on Mexico’s powerful drug cartels carried out by the previous two governments with U.S. help was a failed policy. “They declared war and it didn’t work,” he said.

The victims of Monday’s massacre were members of a tightly knit faction of the Latter-day Saints community that came to Mexico in the late 1800s, after the church renounced polygamy in the U.S. They also appeared to be members of a large, extended family.

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Two relatives, Kendra Miller and Julián LeBarón, gave a similar account of what happened.

Mr. LeBarón, a cousin of two of the women killed and a relative by marriage of the third, said three vehicles with three women and 14 children set out on Monday morning from La Mora, a small village in northeastern Sonora.

Two of the women were going to see family in neighboring Chihuahua to plan an upcoming family wedding, while the third, Rhonita Miller, was heading to Phoenix, Arizona, to pick up her husband Howard, who works in the oilfield services industry in North Dakota, to bring him home for the wedding, he said.

“The first vehicle was found full of bullet holes and completely ablaze,” Kendra Miller wrote on a Facebook post. Rhonita Miller and four of her children were burned to mostly ashes, she wrote.

Ms. Miller could not be immediately reached for comment, but another family member, Lenzo Widmar, told The Wall Street Journal that Ms. Miller is the sister of Rhonita Miller’s husband Howard. Mr. LeBarón also confirmed the account and the relationship between Ms. Miller and the family.

The remains of one of the children were found partly outside an open car door, suggesting they tried to escape the car, Mr. LeBaron said.

Video taken by family members showed the charred remains of one car, which also had scores of bullet holes. Only bone fragments of the five victims were left to help identify them, relatives said.

About 10 miles ahead of Rhonita Miller’s car were Christina Marie Langford, with her baby Faith in her vehicle, and Dawna Ray Langford and her seven children in another vehicle.

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“They both were fired upon from ahead and Christina jumped out waving her arms to let the attackers know that it was women and children in the vehicles. She gave her life to try and save the rest. Dawna and two of her boys were also killed in the gunfire,” Ms. Miller wrote.

Dawna’s son Devin, age 13, hid his 6 other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help, according to Ms. Miller and Mr. LeBarón. Devin arrived in LaMora at around 5:30 pm, giving the first news to local authorities.

Christina’s baby Faith, a seven-month old, was found alive in her car seat more than eight hours after the attack, said Mr. LeBarón, who was part of the team that found the family. She had apparently been put on the floor by her mother to try to protect her.

Jhon LeBarón, another family member, wrote on Facebook that several of the children suffered minor bullet wounds. He added: “My heart is completely broken. This feels like a bad dream I want to wake up from.”

Monday’s killing is at least the fifth massacre of civilians under the presidency of Mr. López Obrador. In April, 14 people were killed at a family party in Minatitlán, in the state of Veracruz, while 26 were shot dead at a bar in Coatzacoalcos in August, also in Veracruz. On Oct. 14, thirteen policemen were ambushed and killed by gunmen in the western state of Michoacan. Hours later, fifteen died in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, in a confrontation with the Mexican army.

Write to Anthony Harrup at anthony.harrup@wsj.com and Juan Montes at juan.montes@wsj.com

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