Nine Americans, including six children, have now been laid to rest in the wake of the deadly ambush in Mexico. The brutality of the killings has shed new light on the increasing violence just south of the border.
As relatives bury the last victim of the ambush on Saturday, some now worry about the Mormon community’s safety there.
“There’s been talk of [leaving the area] because of the tragedy, and they don’t want that to happen to any more of the families,” Lance LeBaron, a relative of the slain family, told CBS News.
Whether the family was targeted or caught in the middle of a cartel battle, their pain is magnified throughout Mexico, where the murder rate is on track to hit a record-high this year, largely due to cartel violence.
Even the police are targets.
Last month, 14 police officers were killed in western Mexico. Fourteen others died during a ferocious gun battle in Culiacan, where authorities captured the Sinaloa cartel’s leader Ovidio Guzman, son of imprisoned druglord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Ovidio was later released when police were threatened with more bloodshed, a move people say has only emboldened the cartels, which are believed to be responsible for more than a dozen deaths and several bus attacks in Juarez just this week.
Vehicle fires in the middle of Juarez are one tactic people say the cartels are using to send a message that they control these streets.
Professor Sergio Pacheco González, who studies the violence in Mexico, said some cartels have splintered into factions that are now fighting each other.
“This represents a change and expansion in the types of places that they are willing to carry out acts of violence,” González explained.
He also pointed out drug use in the United States keeps the elicit trade going while illegal weapons flow south into the hands of the cartels.