TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Mexican authorities said arrested at least one suspect in the massacre of nine members of an American family, according to a release obtained by CNN.
Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs, slaughtering at least six children and three women — all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico — in a grisly attack.
The families lived in the community of La Mora, which is a decades-old settlement founded as part of a fundamentalist offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The dead included 8-month-old twins. Eight children were found alive after escaping from the vehicles and hiding in the brush, but at least five had bullet wounds or other injuries and were taken to a Tucson hospital for treatment.
Authorities said the suspect was arrested in the hills of Agua Prieta, which is on the border with Douglas.
In a Facebook post, the Ministerial Agency for Criminal Investigation (AMIC) said the suspect had two hostages along with several rifles and a large stockpile of ammunition.
CBS News reported two theories on a possible motive are emerging. One is a case of mistaken identity. The other is that they were intentionally targeted.
The Chihuahua Attorney-General Cesar Peniche Espejel confirmed the arrest but could not confirm details of the suspect’s involvement.
“We are waiting for some more intelligence in order to issue an official statement,” he said.
Peniche Espejel said he believes a newly-formed group called the “Los Jaguares” cartel, an off-shoot of the Sinaloa cartel, may be behind the massacre. The group has engaged in a turf war with rivaling cartels such as the La Línea and the Jalisco cartels. Separately, a US official earlier Tuesday said one of the cartels being focused on as potentially behind the attack on the dual US-Mexican family is the La Línea cartel.
“These very cartels of Sinaloa, after the arrest of Guzman ‘El Chapo’ have suffered fragmentations," he said. “They have been growing near the border and are heavily involved in trafficking of immigrants into the United States and drug-trafficking.”
Peniche Espejel said he has been in contact with the family of the victims.