President Donald Trump offered Tuesday to help Mexico hunt the killers of nine Mormon women and children shot dead in a lawless border area, and said the United States stood ready to back its southern neighbor in a “war” on drug cartels.
Gunmen ambushed the members of the LeBaron family — a large clan of Mormons who emigrated to Mexico in the late 19th century — on Monday on a rural road between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, which border the United States.
Three women and six children were killed, including a set of twin babies, said relatives and Mexican officials. Another six children were also injured — two seriously — in the attack, which left the family’s cars riddled with bullets and one badly charred.
Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said the family may have been mistakenly targeted or caught in the crossfire in turf wars between rival drug cartels.
“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,” Trump wrote in a tweet.
He praised Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for prioritizing the fight against drug trafficking, but said “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.”
Lopez Obrador said he would accept “all necessary cooperation” to get justice for the victims, all of whom lived on the Mexican side but had dual nationality.
But the left-wing populist, who has declared an end to Mexico’s “drug wars,” said he was not looking for a new one.
“We don’t agree (with Trump) on that,” he told a news conference. “War is synonymous with irrationality.”
He later tweeted that he had thanked Trump for his support in a phone call.
The White House said the presidents had spoken about the “growing violent behavior” of drugs cartels and other criminal gangs.
“President Trump made clear that the United States condemns these senseless acts of violence that took the lives of nine American citizens and offered Mexico assistance to ensure the perpetrators face justice,” said spokesman Hogan Gidley.