PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CNN) – A woman in Florida is in shock, after losing nine family members in a horrific ambush in Mexico.
Three women and six children, all with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship, were killed in an attack.
The victims were “all shot while in vehicles while driving,” family member Alex Lebaron told CNN on Tuesday.
Several children survived.
Investigators believe the three vehicles, traveling between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua, were ambushed by criminal groups Monday.
When Elisa Steele heard the reports that nine of her extended family members were killed in an ambush in Mexico, she almost didn’t believe it.
“I just thought, no this must be a mistake maybe it was someone else car, but it was very, very real,” said Steele.
Her three female cousins and six of their children attacked about 70 miles south of Douglas, Arizona.
Steele says her cousins are part of a religious settlement in the Sonora state, a section of northern Mexico known for its drug violence tied to organized crime.
The family, many of whom have dual citizenship, were traveling between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua when they were attacked.
Steele says some were headed to a wedding, others to Arizona.
Miraculously, she says some of the children managed to escape and were able to run for help, others were hidden by the quick-thinking mothers before they were killed.
“They think the mother maybe tried to put the child on the floor, under the seat in some way, baby Faith was her name, miraculously survived after hours and hours of being alone in the car, they were able to find her. So, it has been a really stressful 24 hours that has really hit my extended family and relatives very hard,” said Steele.
Now, she is hoping this tragedy promotes change in Mexico and at the border.
“I really think it is important to stress that the U.S. government needs to get involved because it’s not just about these American citizens being targeted and their lives begin taken, it’s also about the fact we have known that the drug cartels are dangerous and threatening both Americans and Mexicans for a long time, we need to strengthen our border. We need to bring in the U.S. government to wipe out these threats,” said Steele.
Late Tuesday night criminal investigators from Mexico’s Sonora state said in a statement that a suspect has been arrested in the massacre.
The ministerial agency for criminal investigation posted on its Facebook page that it has detained an individual who had several assault rifles, including a number high-caliber weapons, in the hills of Aguaprieta, in Sonora state.
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