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AMLO Defends Use Of Military Forces, Claims La Mora Massacre Investigation Nearly Complete

Mexico’s president defended the use of military forces to combat insecurity in Sonora on Monday, citing progress in an investigation into the massacre of nine women and children last November. But a new report out this week shows that violent crime has increased in the state.

Mexico’s plan to curb violence in Sonora by installing military heads in the most violent municipalities last fall hasn’t worked, according to a report released Monday by a civil society group focused on security policy. It analyzed data that showed murders have gone up, in some cases by more than 170%, since military leaders took the helm.

But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pushed back against criticism. He says the military has helped with an investigation into the murders last November of three women and six children, all dual citizens of the U.S. and Mexico.

"We have practically finished the entire investigation," he said during a morning press conference Monday. "And the majority of those responsible for the killings have been detained."

Family of the victims, however, reject that claim.

"I categorically deny that those responsible for killing my cousins and their children have been arrested, there is only one detained out of 100," Julian LeBaron wrote on Twitter in Spanish.

LeBaron, along with many in his family, has been a vocal anti-crime activist, and has led protests and marchescalling for justice for the many families in Mexico who have lost loved ones to organized crime violence.

In July, family members of the victims also filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court against the Juarez Cartel, arguing it is an international terrorist organization and suing for damages.

Sonora has continued to see high rates of murder and other violent crimes, in recent months. In addition to an uptick in murders in the first seven months of this year, compared to the same time period last year before the pilot plan was implemented, cases of robbery, extortion and drug dealing are also way up, according to the report. From January to July of this year, data show, there were 133% more robberies statewide compared to the same period during the previous year. In the capital city Hermosillo, robberies were up by 353%.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.