Three women and six children were killed in a drug cartel attack on a Mormon family, reported to have dual citizenship, in northern Mexico, Mexico’s security minister, Alfonso Durazo, said Tuesday.
Family members of the victims suspect the incident may have been a case of mistaken identity, confirmed by Mexico’s security minister, explaining that the gunmen may have mistakenly thought the group’s large SUVs belonged to rival gangs.
Durazo also said six minors were injured in the ambush, five of whom were subsequently transferred to hospitals across the border in Phoenix, Arizona.
According to Mexican media, the victims were members of the LeBaron family, from a breakaway Mormon community that settled in the country from the United States several decades ago.
More victims possible
The governments of Chihuahua and Sonora states, both of which lie on the United States border, issued a joint statement affirming that an investigation into the episode had been launched.
A relative, Julian LeBaron, was quoted as describing the incident as a “massacre,” adding that some family members were burnt alive. He said on his Facebook page that the dead woman was named Rhonita Maria LeBaron. Four of the children who perished included twin 6-month-old babies and two other children aged 8 and 10.
Mexico’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, rejected U.S. President Trump’s offer of support, saying he did not welcome foreign intervention to deal with such cases.
In a Tweet, Trump said, “If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively,” he wrote, before adding: The cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”
The Mexican president has traditionally preferred a less aggressive approach as he believes confrontational policies by his predecessors only led to more violence.