Mexico official: Suspect not tied to ambush of Americans

National News

This combination of frames from Nov. 4, 2019, video by Kenny Miller and posted on the Twitter account of Alex LeBaron shows two views of a burned-out vehicle that was being used by some members of the LeBaron family as they were driving in a convoy near the Sonora-Chihuahua border in Mexico. Mexican authorities say drug cartel gunmen ambushed multiple vehicles, including this one, slaughtering several women and children. (Kenny Miller/Courtesy of Alex LeBaron via AP)

GALEANA, Mexico (AP) — The Latest on the slaying of nine U.S. citizens in Mexico (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

Mexican officials say a suspect who was arrested in the border city of Agua Prieta with assault rifles was not involved in the killing of three American women and six children.

Alfonso Durazo, a public security official, said Wednesday that preliminary information indicates that the suspect who was detained Tuesday is not linked to the attack.

Criminal investigators in northern Mexico earlier said the suspect was under investigation for a possible connection to the killings.

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11:25 a.m.

Mexican officials say gunmen who killed nine U.S. citizens — three women and six children — may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival drug gang.

Gen. Hector Mendoza, Mexico’s army chief of staff, said Wednesday that the attackers let some surviving children go, indicating that “it was not a targeted attack.”

Mendoza said the ambush consisted of two attacks, two hours apart at two places along the road. He said at 9 a.m. a Chevy Tahoe was hit by bullets and exploded in flames, and at 11 a.m., two Suburbans — one carrying the mother and her baby — were hit by gunfire.

The Americans were all living in northern Mexico.

The Juarez drug cartel and its armed wing, known as “La Linea,” or “The Line,” are fighting a vicious turf war against a faction of the Sinaloa cartel known as the “Salazar.”

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3:15 a.m.

Criminal investigators in northern Mexico say a suspect has been arrested and is under investigation for possible connections with the deaths of nine U.S. citizens — three women and six children — slaughtered Monday when cartel gunmen ambushed their vehicles.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Agency for Criminal Investigation for the state of Sonora said Tuesday that the suspect was found in the town of Agua Prieta, right at the border with the U.S. state of Arizona, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a vehicle.

The suspect, whose gender was not specified in the release, was also found in the possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as various large vehicles including a bullet-proofed SUV.

Officials have said that the gunmen may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war. Eight children, some just infants, survived the ambush.

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12:05 a.m.

The eight children, some mere infants, who survived the ambush in northern Mexico not only escaped the drug cartel gunmen who killed their mothers but managed to hide in the brush, with some walking miles to get help despite grisly bullet wounds.

In a testament to a mother’s devotion, one woman reportedly stashed her baby on the floor of her Suburban and got out of the vehicle, waving her arms to show the gunmen she wasn’t a threat. She may have moved away from the vehicle to distract their attention; her bullet-ridden body was found about 15 yards away from the SUV.

The mother was one of nine U.S. citizens slaughtered Monday when gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a road in an attack that left one vehicle a bullet-riddled hulk.

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