by Jason Hopkins
A 13-year-old Oklahoma teen was shot dead while traveling south of the U.S.-Mexico border, becoming the latest American to die at the hands of cartel gunmen in the country.
An American family was ambushed on Saturday as they were attempting to return to the U.S., the attorney general for the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas stated. The family had traveled to San Luis Potosi to visit relatives for the holidays. As they were driving back Saturday night in their Chevrolet SUV, which carried Oklahoma state plates, the family was attacked.
The highway the family was traveling on — located just south of the Texas-Mexican border — has long been considered high risk, with Zetas and Gulf Cartel members both claiming the area as their own. The family was ambushed and shot at, leaving three people injured and the 13-year-old child dead.
The Tamaulipas attorney general said the parents were permanent U.S. residents and the child was a U.S. citizen, no further details about the family have been given.
The shooting marks the latest example of American citizens getting killed by Mexican gunmen, particularly in the country’s northern region.
An American Mormon family was gunned down while traveling near the country’s northern border in November, attracting U.S.-wide attention to Mexico’s escalating violence. The massacre left six children and three women dead, while other children were forced to flee to a nearby town for safety. Since that time, several individuals have been arrested, including a Mexican police chief. Authorities suspect the Mormon family, which holds dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship, was mistaken for a rival gang.
The incident prompted President Donald Trump to declare his intention to label Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, but he has since backed off that decree after pushback from Mexican City.
The Mexican government estimates over 250,000 people have been killed by cartel-related violence since 2006 — and data suggests that murders have been increasing in recent time. The homicide rate has climbed to historical levels under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with well over 29,000 homicides taking place in 2019, surpassing 2018’s already-high rate.
The increased violence has placed immense pressure on López Obrador to change his approach to the cartels. The leftist leader was elected on a pledge to take a softer tone with organized crime, arguing that a better economy would better help reduce crime.
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Tamalupias, Mexico” by Ereenegee CC3.0.