Mexican authorities arrested three La Linea drug cartel members in connection to the massacre in which nine American women and children were killed a little more than a year ago.
Authorities have now arrested more than a dozen people in connection to the killings.
According to multiple reports, the recent apprehensions include two lower-ranking detainees, and the top brass Ramon Gonzalez Montes, known colloquially as “El Mudo” or “The Mute.”
“They have him detained, and he’s being taken to Mexico City. I don’t have the details; it’s just what federal authorities have told us,” Chihuahua State Police Commissioner Emilio Garcia Ruiz said Monday in a news conference in Chihuahua City. “We have been sharing intelligence, and now they’re informing us they have captured The Mute and two others.”
Julian LeBaron, who lost several family members on that fateful morning, told Fox News on Tuesday that he had received confirmation that Gonzalez had indeed been arrested.
“He was the top local dog, the guy in charge of the northwest of the state,” he said, referring to him as “extremely dangerous.”
Gonzalez is the apparent leader of La Linea in the mountains of western Chihuahua, and has waged a barbaric war with a Sinaloa affiliate over territorial control in large swathes of the land.
Beyond carving out and controlling critical drug smuggling routes, he is said to have bloated his back pockets with other black-market enterprises including gasoline theft and illicit logging. Despite being deemed especially deadly, Gonzalez was arrested on drug and weapons-related charges in 2017 but later released under the directive of a federal judge.
Nonetheless, the number of arrests connected to the Nov. 4, 2019, tragedy, in which members of the LeBaron, Langford and Johnson families were killed, now stands at 15. A dozen arrests have taken place during the course of the last year, including that of a local police chief.
Other law enforcement and cartel experts in the area told Fox News that the operatives are believed to have “taken out” several other players involved in the killings, which brought unwanted limelight and staunch condemnation from north of the border on their otherwise opaque operations.
Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava has said that Gonzalez’s apprehension will have a “positive impact” in continuing to fight against the drug cartels and organized crime syndicates throughout the region.
The savagery of the killings immediately struck a raw and angry nerve. Both Washington and Mexico City vowed to hunt down the perpetrators and hold them accountable.
In the massacre’s aftermath, fingers were promptly pointed at the Juarez cartel, which was in the midst of a fast-growing rivalry with the Sinaloa Cartel, formerly run by the infamous and now jailed Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. The Juarez cartel had earned a chilling reputation for its ruthless ways — from beheading their adversaries to piling limbs in public places — as a word of warning to imbue terror among law enforcement and the local population.
Nonetheless, the exact motive remains murky.
In recent years, the La Mora community had found itself ensconced in a country crowded by growing conflict, as territorial competition between the cartels escalated.
Still, the official narrative stands that the families, who are members of a Mormon offshoot, were in the wrong place, at the wrong time. They were mistaken as belonging to Juarez’s rival cartel wings or crime outfits La Linea or the Sinaloa-aligned Los Salazar, or just caught in the hail of collateral damage.
For the members of the different Mormon sects in the region, many of whom have dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship, the residual trauma of what happened remains raw.
And for LeBaron, much more than a series of arrests need to happen.
“What we really want to do is create a movement to hold authorities to account, not just for our families but all families. People are murdered every day by these cartels,” he told Fox News. “We need clout and support from the U.S. to stay safe. This isn’t a political movement. Politics divides us, and we want to unite. But this cannot go on.”
A total of 15 individuals have been arrested since the November, 2019 slaying on 9 Americans in Mexico