Ar­rests made in am­bush

Nine women, chil­dren killed in Mex­ico shoot­ing

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - David Agren

MEX­ICO CITY – Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties say they have de­tained mul­ti­ple sus­pects in the Novem­ber slay­ings of nine women and chil­dren – a case that at­tracted cross-border at­ten­tion and thrust pre­vi­ously iso­lated fun­da­men­tal­ist com­mu­ni­ties of northern Mex­ico into a po­lit­i­cal firestorm.

In a state­ment on Sun­day, Mex­ico’s fed­eral prose­cu­tor’s of­fice said ju­di­cial and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, along with sol­diers and na­tional guard troops, car­ried out a raid ear­lier in the day at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion.

The news­pa­per El Univer­sal cited sources say­ing three sus­pects were ar­rested just south of the Ari­zona border in Sonora state near the site of the Nov. 4 at­tack, which killed three women and six chil­dren.

The ar­rests fol­lowed the de­ten­tion and ar­raign­ment of a suspect in Novem­ber, who pro­vided “fun­da­men­tal in­for­ma­tion and ev­i­dence.”

Mex­i­can me­dia out­lets re­ported the de­ten­tions fol­lowed the ar­rest of “Mario H,” alias “El Mayo,” a lo­cal leader of the crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion known as “La Linea,” af­fil­i­ates of the Juárez car­tel.

Fam­ily mem­bers re­sponded skep­ti­cally to the news, which came less than 24 hours be­fore a sched­uled meet­ing Mon­day morn­ing with Pres­i­dent An­drés Manuel López Obrador in Mex­ico City.

“I would imag­ine these are low-level peo­ple,” Julián LeBaron, a rel­a­tive of the vic­tims and fam­ily spokesman, told USA TO­DAY af­ter the ar­rests. “We want to know who gave the or­der and who is re­spon­si­ble.”

The prose­cu­tor’s state­ment also men­tioned the work of the FBI, whose “con­tri­bu­tions will be con­sid­ered in the in­ves­tiga­tive ac­tions.” U.S. agents are work­ing along­side Mex­i­can in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

LeBaron had told USA TO­DAY he was skep­ti­cal that all the ev­i­dence had been ac­counted for.

Almost a month af­ter the at­tacks on three car­loads of women and chil­dren who held dual U.S. and Mex­i­can cit­i­zen­ship, fam­i­lies of the vic­tims con­tinue de­mand­ing jus­tice for their slain kin and a stop to the blood­shed south of the border, which has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 Mex­i­cans over the past year and shows few signs of slow­ing.

Run­ning shootouts on Satur­day in the northern state of Coahuila killed 21 peo­ple, in­clud­ing four po­lice of­fi­cers, as hordes of car­tel gun­men opened fire on city hall in Villa Union, some 40 miles south­west of Ea­gle Pass, Texas.

The case of the slain women and chil­dren has cap­tured at­ten­tion and caused con­tro­versy on both sides of the border – with some rel­a­tives in the United States urg­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to des­ig­nate Mex­i­can drug car­tels as “ter­ror­ist” or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Trump told Bill O’Reilly last week that he would “ab­so­lutely” be des­ig­nat­ing Mex­i­can drug car­tels as ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions – a move the Mex­i­can govern­ment re­jected as an un­nec­es­sary in­cur­sion into its sovereignt­y.

“We rec­og­nize … Pres­i­dent Trump has of­fered us help and re­spect. That’s to say, he was re­spect­ful and of­fered help and at the same time re­spected our sov­er­eign right to de­cide with in­de­pen­dence,” López Obrador said Sun­day to thou­sands of sup­port­ers in cen­tral Mex­ico City, cel­e­brat­ing his first year in of­fice. “The govern­ment of Mex­ico will ful­fill its re­spon­si­bil­ity to do jus­tice.”

As López Obrador ral­lied his base, mem­bers of the LeBaron fam­ily led a march in Mex­ico City to the Revo­lu­tion mon­u­ment. Many in at­ten­dance wore white, wav­ing signs with acer­bic slo­gans against López Obrador.

“I’m sorry if this of­fends some­one, but my heart is full of pain. My voice trem­bles with fury. I’m sorry, but I here and say that I don’t care about the econ­omy, nor cor­rup­tion, nor the (Mex­ico City) air­port” – a project López Obrador con­tro­ver­sially can­celed at great cost – “nor po­lit­i­cal col­ors,” Ju­lian LeBarón told the crowd.

He stressed that his protest wasn’t against López Obrador, but a call for jus­tice.

CHRISTIAN CHAVEZ/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bul­let-rid­dled ve­hi­cles sit on a road near Bav­ispe, Mex­ico. Three women and six chil­dren were gunned down.

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