The Ambush and Slaughter of This American Family Calls Into Question Our Security Posture With Mexico

CREDIT: Nefi LeBaron Facebook page

CREDIT: Nefi LeBaron Facebook page


It now appears that at as many as twelve American citizens, mostly women and young children, have been massacred in an ambush carried out by members of a Mexican drug cartel. Some claims have been made that this was a case of mistaken identity but the details coming out, and the fact that the slain are members of the LeBarón family, a prominent American Mormon family that has lived in the area since the 1920s and which has spoken out against the violence of the drug traffickers, make this look much more like a targeted ambush.

Mexico is in an existential crisis. The central government, by its own admission, controls about 20% of the population. The remainder is under the rule of cartel gunmen

This is a screengrab of the relevant map. Red areas are controlled by cartels, green areas are controlled by the government, yellow areas are in dispute. The white areas are not populated.

Significantly, the cartels control the US-Mexico frontier which means that not only is the ability of the Mexican government to restrict illegal immigration very limited, illegal immigrants represent a profit center for the cartels even though their main interest is being able to facilitate drug manufacture and smuggling. Because the cartels have more money than the government, their military component is rapidly overmatching the ability of Mexico’s armed forces to prevent them from acting as they wish. Just a couple of weeks ago, the cartel’s gunmen roundly thumped the Mexican army in pitched battles forcing them to release some high profile prisoners:

This presents us with something of a challenge. The issue along our border, both in narcotics and human trafficking, has become a military problem, not a law enforcement problem. We hear stories of cartel gunmen brazenly crossing into the US and operating there with impunity. We have, in my view, a couple of stark choices. We can legalize and regulate the possession of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin and cut off the cash flowing to the cartels…or we don’t. If we don’t, the status quo is not sustainable because Mexico can no longer exert sovereignty over its territory and it is a matter of time before the cartels start pushing the Border Patrol back and creating a cartel controlled buffer in the United States.