Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday prayed with the family of the nine Mexican-American victims massacred last month in a suspected drug cartel hit and assured them “at least four” suspects have been arrested, a family member said.
Julian LeBaron said the family prayed for the safety of the country with López Obrador and his Cabinet at Mexico City’s National Palace, a meeting that took place a day after Mexican authorities announced the arrest of several suspects in the Nov. 4 attack that left six children and three women dead.
“We just bowed our heads” and “prayed for the president and the country, for peace and goodwill, and to protect our loved ones, and protect our country,” LeBaron told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
López Obrador also pledged to visit the region near Sonora state’s border with Chihuahua in northern Mexico where the massacre took place, LeBaron said.
The nine victims were part of a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located around 70 miles south of Douglas, Ariz. The family members were traveling on a remote dirt road in broad daylight when gunmen sprayed their three SUVs with bullets.
Following the attack, López Obrador resisted calls from the family and politicians, such as President Trump, to wage “war” on the cartels.
López Obrador has faced criticism and protests for violence and other ills in the country. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
He has faced mounting criticism for his government’s “hugs, not bullets” approach to cartel violence and maintained that war was not the appropriate response to the growing deaths at the hands of cartels.
Mexican investigators have apparently struggled to track down those responsible for the attack. While it’s unclear which groups are the focus of the investigation, Mexican authorities have mentioned several cartels operate in the area, including La Linea, Los Jaguares, and Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
Adriana LeBaron, left, Julian LeBaron, center, and Adrian LeBaron, right, stand during a protest against the first year in office of López Obrador on Monday in Mexico City. The LeBaron’s joined a protest to expresse anger and frustration over increasingly appalling incidents of violence, a stagnant economy and deepening political divisions in the country. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)
Meanwhile, Trump has vowed to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, something some in the LeBaron community urged him to do.
“We’ve been invaded by criminal terrorist organizations within our own country, within our own communities, and our government has absolutely failed to stop the thugs,” said LeBaron. “At some point, we have to assume responsibility as citizens to put a stop to it.”
Fox News’ Nicole Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report.