Monday’s massacre in northern Mexico of at least nine members of a family with dual American and Mexican citizenship was stunning even by the standards of a nation under assault by violence from organized crime cartels.
The victims — three women and six children, including 6-month-old twins — were likely not targeted for their nationality or their religion, an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather, authorities believe, they were probably mistaken for rival cartel members, which in these debased days of criminality in portions of Mexico was enough to lead to the brazen and brutal slaughter.
It’s just the latest episode of extraordinary violence that should shock the conscience of Mexico — and America. Just two weeks ago, Mexican troops had to release Ovidio Guzman Lopez, the son of the infamous, and now convicted, drug lord known as El Chapo, after the Sinaloa cartel supporting him besieged the city of Culiacan in an assault that threatened to turn the city into a bloodbath of innocent victims.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted an offer that the U.S. help Mexico “wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth” and that “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.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador didn’t appear ready or willing to take Trump up on his offer of U.S. support, and has generally rejected an overly martial response, favoring a “hugs not bullets” anti-crime approach.
But the bullets keep hitting their targets in Mexico, with record killings in 2018 and 2019.
Monday’s murders, which included some victims burned alive in their vehicle, must not go unpunished. But justice must be pursued for other victims, too, and the Mexican government must come up with a more effective strategy to take on the cartels that are waging war within — and, in effect, on — the country.