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The man responsible for the 2019 slaughter of a Mormon family in Sonora, Mexico was arrested last week. Here's what we know.

Drug warfare: Read about this family tragically caught in cartel crossfire

A Mexican drug cartel leader was arrested last week for the slaughter of three Mormon mothers and their six children in 2019. The man in question, Roberto González Montes, was the leader of La Linea and is nicknamed “El32” or “El Mudo”, meaning “the mute”. Montes was arrested in accordance with an investigation that took off this time last year, sources told El Diario.

The case

Dual U.S.-Mexico citizens, the victims were caught in the crossfire of an alleged cartel shootout in the border state of Sonora in a remote area. The families apparently attended their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints close by and were on their way to a wedding in a convoy of 17.

The families lived in a Mormon community called La Mora. Kendra Lee Miller, a relative, identified the victims as Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, Dawna Langford, 43, Trevor Langford, 11, Rogan Langford, 2, Rhonita Maria Miller, 30, Howard Miller, 12, Krystal Miller, 10, and Titus and Tiana Miller, 8-month-old twins.

When Christina Marie Langford Johnson stepped out of her SUV to confront one of the gunmen, she was killed on the scene. But her 7-month-old daughter, Faith Langford, survived.

Julian LeBaron commented on the events, stating that his cousin was traveling with her four children to the airport when they were caught in the line of fire. “It was a massacre,” said LeBaron in a statement to Formula Radio, an activist denouncing gangs in the area. He added that his cousin’s van caught on fire with the victims inside.

In a statement to CNN, LeBaron elaborated on the incident. “Women and children were massacred, burnt alive,” he said. “Mothers were screaming for the fire to stop.” Several hours after the incident, two other vehicles were found containing the bodies of two women, a boy, and a girl. At least five other children managed to escape and walk home.

LeBaron explained how the attack took place in a “war zone”, which is home to drug cartels and “thugs”. Some theorize that the Mormon families were mistaken for another cartel. LeBaron speculated that the families “may have been caught in crossfire or targeted by mistake, we don’t know the cause.” There’s a chance that the murders were intentional, however, as the Mormon community was the subject of threats at the time.

Recent events

Roberto González Montes’s arrest took place in the northern province of Chihuahua and was confirmed by the local Secretary of State for Public Security, Emilio García Ruiz. He explained that Montes had already been flown to Mexico City to be charged by a judge, though he didn’t specify when exactly this arrest took place.

More details also surfaced about the shootout itself. According to an Attorney General investigation, the gun slaughter happened as a result of turf warfare between Montes’ La Línea and rival Sinaloa Cartel, once led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest of Mores, stating that he’s suspected to be a “member of the criminal organization with a presence in the north of the country.”

Montes was arrested with Eulalio Domínguez Alanís and Santiago Casaventes Radovich, also known as “El Condor”. The 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. So far, more than a dozen members have been arrested.

News of the arrest is still unfolding, but so far Montes is the main suspect in question. Hopefully, this act of justice will prevent violent cartel-related tragedies from occurring in the future.

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