Things That Matter

A Local Police Chief Has Been Arrested In An Alleged Connection To The Murders Of The LeBaron Family In Mexico

It has been almost two months since a group of men, allegedly cartel members, gunned down nine members of the LeBaron family in the state of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico. These nine victims of the November 4 attack were all women and children. The LeBaron family has dual citizenship and is one of the Mormon clans that migrated to northern Mexico and established a community that has connections with important political families in the United States, such as that of the Republican senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The massacre was condemned on both sides of the border and led the US government to reconsider the level of involvement it has in the cartel wars that have rocked Mexico since 2006. Just as 2019 comes to a close there has been some progress in the investigations. 

A municipal police chief has been arrested in connection to the LeBaron massacre.

Mexican media reported on the arrest of Fidel Alejandro Villegas, who is the police chief of the municipality of Janos in Chihuahua. The fact that a member of the police has been linked to the killing of six children (two of them merely six months old) and three women is a huge development, as it brings to light the corruption that municipal police often is tainted with then it comes to organized crime. Even though the reports do not specify the degree of Villegas’ involvement, they do point towards ties with the cartels.

As reports: “A federal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the arrest of Villegas, which follows the detention of other suspects earlier in the investigation. Mexican officials believe the women and children were killed after becoming caught up in a dispute between local drug cartels battling for control of the area.”

Under pressure from the Trump administration, the Mexican government agreed to let the FBI aid in the investigation. Villegas is the fourth person to be arrested for the attack after brothers Héctor Mario and Luis Manuel Hernández and another as of yet unnamed individual. 

The LeBaron massacre has had a deep impact on how the new Mexican government is perceived.

When history books are written on the presidency of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the LeBaron family massacre will stand out as the first massive challenge that the administration faced in terms of public relations management in the face of tragedy. These types of massacres happen all the time in Mexico and 2019 is bound to be the most violent year in modern history with up to 35,000 murders, but this case was put on the spotlight internationally and further damaged US-Mexico relationships.

Many fervent AMLO supporters questioned the efficacy of the government’s approach to fighting organized crime while the opposition launched tough attacks. The massacre was one of the main reasons why Donald Trump toyed with the idea of classifying drug cartels as terrorist organizations, which would redefine and broaden the involvement of the United States in Mexican territory. AMLO has called for cooperation but no intervention. US intervention in the country is a touchy subject due to the love-hate relationship that the countries have had historically. 

The LeBaron family had a very different kind of Christmas and further pressured the government to serve justice.

The LeBaron family, which migrated to Mexico fearing persecution from US authorities due to their polygamous beliefs, had a sad Christmas. As reported by CE Noticias Financieras, the patriarch Adrian is still in mourning and probably will always be: “LeBarón, with 35 children, 87 grandchildren and a great-grandson, could not hold back tears as he remembers her 30-year-old daughter Rhonita Miller, whose charred body was found after the massacre in a burned-out vehicle on a terraced road near her home. ‘We thank us for giving us the strength to resist those things that have hurt in our souls,’ said the 58-year-old man, along with Shalom, one of his three wives and Rhonita’s mother”. Mexican-American Mormons are mounting pressure and the arrest of Fidel Alejandro Villegas and three other individuals seems to be a response to this.

As reported by Mail Online, the LeBaron patriarch has been lobbying in Mexico City and Washington for further security measures and binational cooperation. He has also criticized the political structures that, according to his diagnosis, basically put police forces under the control of the cartels: “The Mexican municipal police are not autonomous in this area. They are under the control of the mayors, who are financed by the cartels. The old ways here have to change. We have 20 neighboring municipalities and no district attorney. We have no independent police, and that has to change.”

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