An arrest has been made in the border massacre of a Mormon family that left three women and six children dead after reportedly being ambushed and tortured near the Sonora-Chihuahua border.
According to FOX 8 News, the Mexican Ministerial Agency for Criminal Investigations (AMIC) apprehended an armed gunman “who was holding two bound and gagged hostages in the hills of Agua Priests in the state of Sonora.”
The defendant reportedly was in possession of “several rifles and a large amount of ammunition, including a number of large-caliber weapons,” which fits with reports of over 200 shell casings being recovered at the scene of the massacre.
The announcement of the arrest was made on the official AMIC Facebook page.
Motivation for the attack has been attributed to hostile border relations between the Mormons and Mexican drug cartels:
The LeBaron family had a history of conflict with Mexican drug cartels, which indicates that they may have been targeted, former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda told CNN on Tuesday evening.
“Cartels have taken too many of our family members,” said Kendra Lee Miller, adding those killed Monday were “not the first.”
Miller told CNN her family has recently been threatened by cartels over where it can travel.
Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo has floated the idea that the murders were a case of “mistaken identity,” but given the methodology of the attack and a long history of aggression by cartels towards the Mormons, Castañeda finds that explanation “unlikely” at best.
The former minister also said the larger LeBaron community had been receiving the protection of 90 federal police stationed around the community since 2011 because of tensions between the family and cartels.
That protection was withdrawn to some extent by the current government earlier this year, according to Castañeda. It’s unclear whether all 90 policemen were withdrawn or just some of them, he added.
Despite the number of victims and amount of firearms used in the slaughter, the attack has yet to be referred to as a “mass shooting” by major media sources.