Sunday 17 November 2019

Trump offers to 'wipe out' drug cartels after nine Americans killed

U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Mary Beth Sheridan

Donald Trump has suggested sending the US army over the border into Mexico to "wage war" on drug cartels.

The US president said his country stood "ready, willing and able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively" if his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, asked him for help.

He was reacting to the slaughter of an American family by gunmen during an ambush in Sonora state.

Mr Trump tweeted: "A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing.

"If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!

"This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!"

At least nine members of the Mormon family, including twin babies, were killed.

The group belonged to the LeBaron family - a Mormon community that broke away from the main body of the faith and settled in northern Mexico some decades ago.

Relative Julian LeBaron described the attack as a "massacre" and said four boys, two girls and three women had been killed. Some were burnt alive, he said.

The state governments in Sonora and Chihuahua said they had launched an investigation.

Mexico's security department said its personnel were being reinforced by National Guard, regular troops and state police in the Bavispe area where the attack took place.

Yesterday the country's top security official said the massacre had been carried out by cartel gunmen and that one child was still missing. The attackers may have mistaken the family's large cars as belonging to rival gangs, Alfonso Durazo said.

Mr Trump has long used the threat of violent crime within Mexico for political ends, blaming the US's neighbour for "sending" rapists and murderers north over their shared frontier.

In a press conference yesterday, Mr Lopez Obrador said: "I haven't seen the message from president Trump, but I am sure that it comes from a desire to help, to co-operate, that it has not been disrespectful nor interfering. Every time we speak, it is with that desire to help, and the government respects that greatly.

"We are very grateful to president Trump - to any foreign government which wants to help - but in these cases we have to act independently, and in line with our tradition of independence and sovereignty."

He did not want to see a war break out, he said. "War is synonymous with irrationality. We are for peace."

The daily 'Reforma' reported that the victims included three women and four children. Another publication, 'El Universal', cited relatives saying that a dozen family members were killed - three women and nine children. They were part of a community of dual US-Mexican citizens.

Mexican authorities said they have not yet confirmed the number of victims.

Relatives posted video of a charred vehicle in which the victims had been traveling.

"This is how we live under the government of @lopezobrador," tweeted Alex LeBaron, referring to Mr Obrador. "Mexican Mormons, innocent women and children were ambushed in the Chihuahua sierra, shot and burned alive by the Cartels that rule in Mexico!"

The attack happened on Monday when two of the women were driving a group of children from Bavispe, in Sonora state, to a Mormon community known as La Mora in neighbouring Chihuahua state.

Organised crime groups in the area have been fighting and may have initially mistaken the vehicles for their rivals, according to reports.

Irish Independent

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