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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300 Pounds of Drugs, Loaded Weapons Seized at Arizona Border Crossings
Tucson Sector Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than 300 pounds of drugs and eight loaded weapons being smuggled into the U.S. through Arizona ports of entry over the weekend. Officers also seized nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition with the firearms cache.
Officers assigned to the Lukeville Port of Entry on Friday afternoon observed a Chevy SUV approaching for inspection as the driver attempted to cross from Mexico into the U.S. An officer referred the driver, a 60-year-old man from Fort Mojave, Arizona, to a secondary inspection station, according to information obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.
During a search of the SUV, the officers found a cache of eight loaded weapons including rifles and handguns. The officers also found nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition. In addition to the weapons, the officers also found a little more than one pound of marijuana. Officials seized the weapons, ammunition, drugs, and the SUV. The CBP officers placed the suspect under arrest and turned him over to ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigation.
Earlier that day, other officers at the Lukeville Port of Entry observed a Dodge sedan approaching from Mexico seeking to enter the U.S. During a secondary inspection, a K-9 officer alerted to an odor it is trained to detect, officials stated.
Officers carried out a physical search of the vehicle and found nearly 50 packages of methamphetamine hidden inside the vehicle’s gas tank. Officials estimated the 65 pounds of meth to be worth more than $58,000. The officers seized the drugs and vehicle and placed the driver and passenger, both residents of Phoenix, under arrest.
Port of Douglas officers observed a Ford truck approaching from Mexico seeking to enter the U.S. through the port on Saturday morning. The officers referred the driver, a 21-year-old man from Agua Prieta, Sonora, to a secondary inspection. Following an alert from a K-9 officer, a physical search of the truck led to the discovery of 90 packages of marijuana. The officers found the drugs under the hood of the truck and in the back wall of the truck’s cab, officials stated. Officials estimated the 124 pounds of marijuana to be worth more than $37,000.
The following evening, officers observed a Nissan SUV approaching the Dennis DeConcini Crossing from Mexico. The officers referred the driver, a 33-year-old Mexican woman from Phoenix, to a secondary inspection station. A search of the SUV led to the discovery of nearly 132 pounds of methamphetamine. Officers estimated the value of the meth to be more than $118,000.
In total, the CBP officers in this sector found 321 pounds of drugs and stopped a smuggler from bringing eight firearms and nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition into the U.S. Officers turned all suspects and seized property over to HSI agents for further investigation.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.
Feds Bust Mexican Cartel’s Methamphetamine Running Cell in Kansas
A yearlong investigation by U.S. authorities in Kansas led to the arrest of a methamphetamine distribution cell tied to Mexico’s Los Viagras faction of the Familia Michoacana Cartel. The cartel cell is considered to be part of the violent cartel’s drug distribution operation which also has cells in Washington State and Georgia.
Court documents filed at the federal court in Wichita Kansas revealed that for more than a year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Kansas City Police targeted 57-year-old Luis Martinez Carrango and 13 of his associates tied to the widespread distribution of methamphetamine throughout the Midwest. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, during a recent raid targeting the cartel cell, agents seized 220 pounds of methamphetamine in the Kansas City Metro Area.
While not revealed in court documents, Breitbart Texas consulted with U.S. and Mexican law enforcement sources to confirm that Luis Martinez’s cell is part of Los Viagras from Michoacán. Law enforcement sources identified him as the criminal organization’s main point of distribution in the area and a close associate of Cesar “El Boto or Marrueco” Sepulveda Arellano, one of the top leaders of Los Viagras in Michoacán.
As Breitbart Texas reported, the man known as El Boto is the same cartel boss who in August 2018 placed a $100,000 bounty on one of the writers of Breitbart Texas’s Cartel Chronicles Project, only to be arrested by Mexican Marines 40 hours later after authorities received information on his precise location at a house in the state of Morelos. Despite his arrest, El Boto’s cell within Los Viagras continues to operate in Michoacán producing and moving large quantities of methamphetamine into the U.S. At the same time, the entire cartel continues a fierce turf war with Mexico’s Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion over control of Michoacán’s shipping ports and drug production areas.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at [email protected].
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at [email protected].