According to law enforcement officials and a family relative, the massacre of three American mothers, Rhonita Maria LeBaron, Christina Langford Johnson and Dawna Langford, and their six children in Mexico this week was targeted. Initially, it was reported they got caught in the crossfire between two rival cartels while traveling north to the United States.
"Nothing about that [attack] says unintentional hit," a law enforcement official close to the situation tells Townhall, adding one of the women got out of her vehicle with her hands up in surrender before she was shot.
The official stated the family had received threats and reported them. The family also made statements against increased cartel violence in the region.
Further, cartel members approached one of the vehicles and burned LeBaron and her children alive.
"They came up to the vehicle, shot more shots, raided the vehicle and then incinerated it," Lafe Langford, a relative of the victims, said during an interview with Fox News.
As more details about the attack emerge, experts on the region and cartel violence are weighing in on what happened.
"These [Mormon] sect members were residing in the area basically as guests of the cartel. They were tolerated, but they were also an irritant to the cartel. There's not a chance in the world that this was random or some crossfire situation," former Assistant to the FBI Chris Swecker told America's Newsroom Wednesday.
The vicious nature of the attack is alarming. It indicates the vacuum left by the arrest and prosecution of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin El Chapo Guzman is being filled by "homicidal maniacs." Law enforcement officials say behavior from younger cartel leaders and members is "off the rails crazy." Townhall is told the old guard, whose members regularly use violence but have some boundaries and rules of engagement, is astonished by the brazen nature of this attack.
One suspect has been arrested, others are still on the run. The FBI is investigating.