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Cartel Violence Targets Mexican-American Family Near US-Mexico Border Killing At Least Nine

At least nine members of a Mexican-American family of 14 were brutally killed during a highway cartel ambush in Mexico, according to authorities. The family of three mothers and 14 children were Mormon-fundamentalist with dual American and Mexican citizenship. 

While the family was crossing the border between Galeana, Chihuahua and Bavispe, Sonora cartel members attacked the family who was spread across three cars with guns. When one bullet his the gas tank of an SUV it exploded. 

The victims were identified as Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29; Dawna Langford, 43; Trevor Langford, 11; and Rogan Langford, 2-and-a-half, Rhonita Miller, 30; Howard Miller, 12; Krystal Miller, 10; and the 8-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana Miller, according to NBC News. 

Authorities believe the attack ensued when cartel members may have mistaken the vehicles for rival SUVs. 

A gruesome attack highlights Mexico’s cartel violence.

The Mexican government says some family members, including a woman and her children, were burned alive. Eight children survived, although some were seriously injured. A 9-month-old survived being shot in the chest, as did a 4-year-old who was shot in the back, according to Kendra Lee Miller a family member who spoke with NBC. 

Kendra said 13-year-old Devin Langford managed to escape uninjured. Devin walked roughly 14 miles to La Mora for help after concealing his wounded siblings in bushes and branches. Another child, 9-year-old McKenzie Langford who as grazed on the arm with a bullet was also forced to go and look for help when Devin did not return. McKenzie was lost for hours before being discovered by search parties. 

“Everyone is in so much shock,” Willie Jessop, a family member of one of the victim’s said. “It’s just unbelievable, and there’s just no way to comprehend it.”

According to Arizona Central, the family who is from Queen Creek, Arizona were a part of a massive local Mormon community. 

“It’s devastating,” Leah Staddon, another family member told Arizona Central. “It’s incomprehensible, the evil. I don’t understand how someone could do that.” 

Trump reacts to the attack on Twitter, saying he will “wage war.” 

“A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “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.”

President Trump did not specify in what form the “help” would be provided, whether in the form of aid or military support. 

“The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!” Trump wroteadding: “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. We merely await a call from your great new president!”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responds to Trump. 

While López Obrador says he did not read Trump’s tweets he took a more optimistic tone. 

“In the spirit of cooperating… I am sure he has not been disrespectful. Every time we talk it is with that spirit of helping, which we appreciate very much,” he said. 

However, López Obrador warned against a “war on drugs” — perhaps he is aware of how the one in the United States failed horribly. 

“The worst thing is war … those who have lived war, suffered from war, know what that means… It is the opposite of politics, war is synonymous to irrationality, war is irrational,” he said.

Is Mexico’s approach with violent cartels coming to a head? 

The attack, which still has authorities scrambling to piece the incident together and find the remaining family members who are missing, comes weeks after a “botched anti-drug raid,” according to the Washington Post. 

The Sinola cartel gained control of Culiacan following the attempted arrest of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s son Ovidio Guzman. After detaining him, the Mexican government released Ovidio to prevent a violent standoff with the cartel. 

The Los Angeles Times says Mexico’s homicides may exceed last year’s record high next year, while extortions are up 37 percent, and kidnappings are up 9 percent. According to Yahoo News, there have been 250,000 killings in Mexico since 2006 when Mexico used military intervention to combat organized crime. 

As López Obrador avoids militant responses, he has deployed 50,000 members of Mexico’s National Guard to thwart crime. Many are wondering if this incident will change López Obrador’s more diplomatic approach. 

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