BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge says a Mexican drug cartel accused in the gruesome killings of nine women and children from an offshoot Mormon community must pay $1.5 billion to the families.

The family members of the victims filed a lawsuit accusing the Juarez cartel of carrying out the November 2019 attack in Mexico.

The families say it was retribution for their public criticism and protests against the cartel.

The award determined by U.S. Magistrate Judge Clare Hochhalter of North Dakota will be automatically tripled under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act, increasing the amount to $4.6 billion.

The government can freeze assets of terrorist organizations, but it’s unclear if the U.S. Treasury Department holds any cartel assets.

Several surviving family members have been working in North Dakota.