Mormon family massacre arrest, Mexican authorities arrested a suspected.
A heavily armed suspected drug lord has been arrested and is under investigation for the slaughter of nine Americans, including three mothers and six children, after the Mormon family was ambushed in northern Mexico by cartel gunmen.
The suspect – only identified as a 30-year-old man named Leonardo – was found late Tuesday in the town of Agua Prieta, right at the border with the U.S. state of Arizona, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a vehicle, Mexico’s Agency for Criminal Investigation said.
Authorities said the suspect, who is part of an El Chapo rival cartel, was also found in the possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as various large vehicles including a bullet-proofed SUV.
The hostages are not believed to be related to the nine LeBaron family victims who were killed on Monday while traveling in a convoy of three SUVS on a dirt road in Sonora state.
The Sonora prosecutor’s office told DailyMail.com they were still investigating if the arrested suspect is connected to the brutal slayings.
Devastated family members of the slain victims visited the scene of the grisly murders late on Tuesday and were pictured sobbing as they saw the burnt out and bullet riddled SUVs.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Wednesday he was open to allowing U.S. law enforcement to help out with the massacre investigation as officials revealed that the weapons used in the attack were smuggled from the U.S.
Officials have said that the cartel gunmen may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war.
They also blamed Juarez drug cartel and its armed wing, La Linea, for the attack on the LeBaron family.
La Linea’s gunmen had entered Sinaloa cartel territory and set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further up the road.
The Sinaloa cartel was previously headed by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. The area where the attack occurred is dominated by a Sinaloa cartel offshoot called the Salazar.
The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road into Chihuahua. It was this invasion force that the American mothers and their three vehicles drove into.
It was only after the first vehicle belonging to the family was shot up and set alight that 50 or 60 Sinaloa cartel gunmen showed up to see what had happened.
‘It is believed that the La Linea criminal organization acted on a threat from the Salazars to enter Chihuahua,’ General Homero Mendoza said. ‘It decided to send a cell to the Janos and Bavispe city limits… This cell was sent to stop any incursion of the Salazar criminal cell to Chihuahua.’
The military general also said that La Linea and the Salazars were involved in another shootout earlier on Monday that resulted in the death of a man.
The mothers were driving in separate vehicles with their children from the La Mora religious community where they live, which is a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Rhonita Miller and four of her children – her six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, her 10-year-old daughter Krystal and 12-year-old son Howard – were all killed. Another two mothers, Dawna Langford and Christina Langford Johnson, as well as Dawna’s sons, Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, were also all killed.
Eight children, some just infants, survived the ambush. Those surviving children not only escaped the drug cartel gunmen who killed their mothers but managed to hide in the brush for hours until help arrived.
The five wounded children were seriously enough injured that Mexican authorities flew them to the border in a military helicopter to receive hospital care in the United States. Sonora state health officials said they were ‘stable’ at the moment of transfer. Three other children who were not wounded are in the care of family members in La Mora.