The slaughter Monday of three Mormon women and six children, all American citizens who were longtime residents of Mexico, brings home a cruel reality of America’s neighbor to the south. Drug gangs control huge swathes of the country, and the government in Mexico City is too often overwhelmed by the criminal firepower and money.
The women and children were attacked by gunmen as they traveled in SUVs in the northern state of Sonora in broad daylight. Mexican officials said Tuesday that it could have been a case of mistaken identity. But according to survivors who hid in a nearby woods, one of the women was shot outside her vehicle with her hands up. It seems more likely that the murders were a warning from drug cartels to everyone in the region, and especially to Mexican officials, that the gangs are in charge.
The details of the murders are shocking, but the truth is that such mayhem is an everyday occurrence in Mexico. A Council on Foreign Relations paper, updated on Oct. 22, reports that murders are soaring in the country, often linked to the drug cartels. Homicides reached a new high of 36,000 in 2018 and this year murders have averaged 90 a day.
The border states of Sonora and Chihuahua are crucial to the cartels because of their access to the U.S. and the giant American market for illegal drugs. Killings of police in Sonora have doubled this year to about 20, according to the Mexico City consulting firm Empra.