Mexico’s president stood defiant Wednesday amid mounting criticism of his government’s policy of using “hugs, not bullets” when fighting drug cartels after nine Americans – including six children – were gunned down by sicarios on Monday.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador brushed off criticisms against his government’s position and reiterated Wednesday during his daily media briefing that violence was not the answer or appropriate response to the growing deaths at the hands of cartels.
“It was lamentable, painful because children died, but do we want to resolve the problem the same way (as previous administrations)? By declaring war?” he asked. “That, in the case of our country, showed that it does not work. That was a failure. It caused more violence.”
“We are carrying out a different policy because the policy that was applied during 36 years was a resounding failure and it caused a lot of damage, a lot of sadness, a lot of deaths, a lot of losses for Mexicans,” he added. “We will not continue with the same and we will show that our proposal works, despite it not being easy. We are confident that we will achieve good results.”
His comments came two days after nine Americans – three women and six children – were gunned down by cartel members in an ambush in the northern state of Sonora. Officials have said they believe the gunmen may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war.
Eight young children – including an 8-month-old baby – survived the attack by hiding in the brush and even though they were wounded, some walked miles to get help.
All the victims are believed to be members of the extended LeBaron family, who live in a religious community in La Mora, northern Mexico, a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around 70 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexican officials announced late Tuesday that a suspect was arrested near the Arizona-Mexico border in connection to the deaths. The suspect was holding two hostages who were bound and gagged inside a vehicle, which was bulletproof and contained four assault-type rifles, officials said.
The brazen daytime attack on Monday reignited questions regarding whether Lopez Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” security policy of not engaging deadly drug cartels with violence was actually working.
Since taking office in December, Mexico is on track to record more than 32,000 murders this year. In the last month alone, the country has been plagued by at least three deadly high-profile attacks – including Monday’s – at the hands of cartel members.
The front page of Mexico’s Reforma newspaper led the criticism against Lopez Obrador, saying his government “washed its hands … and rejected help.” This was in reference to the Mexican leader rejecting President Trump’s offer for help from the U.S. military in engaging drug cartels.
Meanwhile, El Universal ran an editorial saying that the daylight attack between Chihuahua and Sonora “confirms that the (government’s) security strategy requires an urgent revision to correct the errors or to adopt a new direction.”
“Almost nothing has changed in respect to what has happened in the last decades in the country,” it said. “Minatitlan, Coatzacoalcos, Uruapan, Aguililla, Teopchica, Culiacan, Bavispe … all of the places are references to the bloody incidents registered this year.”
“Conciliatory messages and calls to criminals do not seem to be enough; because of the events, it should be noted that they do not seem to fear the force of the State. Exploring other options sounds obligatory.”
The president used the catchy phrase “hugs not bullets” – or “abrazos, no balazos” in Spanish – in his promise to clear out violent drug cartels, not by waging war, but instead changing communities by tackling what he said is at the root of the problem: extreme poverty.
On Wednesday, Lopez Obrador said he would not sway from his position, saying that “violence cannot be confronted with violence.”
“The bad cannot be confronted with the bad. The bad needs to be confronted doing the good,” he added. “We believe that the most important (thing) is life, protecting the lives of everyone; the lives of the military, the lives of the presumed delinquents, and the lives of civilians.”
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Cartels Make Power Plays in Mexico During Pandemic
After the Mexican government’s lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was well-documented by international media, ruthless cartels that already wield significant power are stepping in to fill the void.
“Alejandrina Guzman is using her company, El Chapo 701, to pack and deliver care boxes full of food, masks, hand soaps and other supplies, dubbed Chapo’s provisions, around Guadalajara,” Fox News reported.
Guzman is the daughter of notorious drug kingpin and cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Cartels are reportedly delivering the supplies to Mexican citizens.
In what appears to be an effort to antagonize Mexican authorities, Guzman has printed her father’s image on the medical face masks that the cartel henchmen wear while delivering the supplies.
El Chapo 701 is a legitimate company in Mexico, illustrating the mesh between legal business operations and illegitimate cartel operations. The company’s name was inspired by Forbes Magazine, which once dubbed El Chapo, who is serving a life sentence in a Colorado “Supermax” prison, the 701st richest man in the world.
He was estimated to be worth $1 billion.
“We are working and contributing. A great pleasure to visit your homes and give you these Chapo handouts,” Guzman reportedly said in a Facebook post with an image of herself wearing a face mask bearing her father’s likeness.
Cartels often exploit poor Mexican citizens by filling power vacuums where the government fails.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 situation is becoming more dire in Mexico.
South of the U.S. border, the country has reported 8,261 confirmed cases and 686 deaths as of Monday.
Bloomberg reported Sunday that hospitals in Mexico City, the country’s capital, are near full capacity despite the fact that the virus has not yet reached its peak.
Less than one month ago, while most Western countries were sheltered in place, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was on the campaign trail, posting videos of himself surrounded by crowds, shaking hands, and visiting restaurants.
CBP Seizes $1.5 Million Worth Of Cartel Fentanyl In Indiana
This is enough fentanyl to kill over 1 million Americans. President Trump was right to announce that our military will go after the cartels who produce the deadly drug & smuggle it into the U.S. Cartels are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to ship more & more of these deadly poisons into our country & they must be wiped out.
On March 30, Indianapolis U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted approximately four-and-a-half pounds of fentanyl in a package destined to East Elmhurst, New York.
The shipment was transiting through a local express consignment facility when CBP K9 Balbina alerted to the package. When officers opened the shipment they found a white styrofoam cooler lined with padded black material. The cooler held two sealed packages of white powder that tested positive for fentanyl. The street value for the fentanyl is about $1.5 million.
Indianapolis Port Director James Moore praised the canine staff for their outstanding interdiction. “Opioids pose a real danger to every community in America and are having fatal consequences across our nation,” said Moore. “This week our CBP officers were able to stop an enormous amount of these deadly narcotics from hitting our streets.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug with a potency roughly 100 times greater than morphine. It was originally developed to control pain for cancer patients. Large quantities of fentanyl have been manufactured in China but it is now mostly made in Mexico, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“These efforts show our resolve to prevent these deadly drugs from entering our communities,” said Chief CBP Officer Tim Hubbard.
With more than 1,500 canine teams, the CBP Canine Program is the largest and most diverse law enforcement canine program in the country. The Canine Program supports canine training initiatives and serves as a resource center for a multitude of domestic and international law enforcement partners, and its graduates consistently excel in the field and in competition.
Story compiled by Jeff Rainforth for We Build the Wall, Inc. Follow Jeff on Facebook for live border videos & coverage.
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