Roberto González Montes, the alleged leader of the La Línea drug cartel, has been arrested for his involvement in the murder of three Mormon mothers and their six children last year.
Montes is also known as “El32” or “El Mudo,” which means “the mute.”
The arrest took place in the northern province of Chihuahua, according to the local Secretary of State for Public Security, Emilio García Ruiz, who said Montes had already been flown to Mexico City to be charged before a judge.
The horrific killings happened during a turf war between Montes’ La Línea Cartel and the rival Sinaloa Cartel.
Also arrested in the bust were Eulalio Domínguez Alanís and Santiago Casavantes Radovich, who is known as “El Condor.”
The alleged cartel members were arrested by the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime Investigation, the Secretary of National Defense, the National Intelligence Center and the navy, according to El Diario.
On the 4th of November 2019, about 70 miles south of the Mexico–United States border, cartel members opened fire on a three-car convoy that was traveling to a wedding. The vehicles in the convoy were carrying residents of the isolated La Mora community, which is predominantly composed of American Mexican “independent Mormons.”
Nine people were killed with some burned alive in a car. The victims included three women and six children, all of whom held dual US–Mexican citizenship.
All of the victims were from rancho La Mora, Sonora, a compound containing 30 to 40 homes on about a thousand acres, and with a full-time population of about 150 people.
The victims descend from settlers who founded Colonia Oaxaca, which is now called “Rancho Oaxaca.” It is part of the historical Mormon colonies founded in the late 19th century, but not affiliated with the official Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The church issued a statement after the incident expressing its “love, prayers, and sympathies,” but also distanced itself from the group’s style of Mormonism, saying that they are not officially affiliated with the group.
After the incident, Mexican officials said that the family was mistaken for a cartel convoy of vehicles. Earlier in the day, the same location had also been the scene of a shootout between rival cartel gangs. However, other theories were also floated about the family being specifically targeted.
According to the Dallas Morning News’s Alfredo Corchado, targeting of the victims may have been due to activism by certain extended LeBarón family members having “over the years been outspoken in their condemnation of criminal groups that hold sway over a wide swath of northern Mexico”
A member of the extended family, Julian LeBarón, whose brother Benjamin was killed by cartel gunmen in 2009, claims that the attack was targeted. He says that the gunmen knew exactly who they were shooting at because the surviving children claimed that one of the female victims had attempted to identify herself to stop the attack.
It is not exactly clear when the suspects were arrested, or what specific charges they are facing.