Utah’s Mike Lee calls for sanctions against Mexican drug cartels who killed nine U.S. citizens

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A family convoy carrying victims' remains passes the site where vehicles were attacked by gunmen near La Mora, Sonora, on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019.

Sen. Mike Lee and one of his colleagues on Monday asked the secretaries of state and treasury to pursue sanctions against Mexican drug cartels responsible for the killing of nine U.S. citizens earlier this month.

The letter was signed by Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The senators asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray to “consider the full and creative use of existing sanctions authorities against those responsible.”

The FBI has been assisting Mexican authorities investigating the killings. Lee and Sasse asked to receive a briefing from the Trump administration within 60 days of the FBI concluding that assistance.

(Rick Egan | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Sen. Mike Lee.

On Nov. 4, gunmen in the Mexican state of Chihuahua fired upon three vehicles from the town of La Mora. Three women and six children died. At least five other children were injured.

A relative of the victims and a former mayor of La Mora, Adam Langford, has blamed a cartel from Chihuahua.

The victims had citizenship in Mexico and the United States. They could trace their roots in Mexico to when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent families there to continue the practice of polygamy. The victims also had family in so-called fundamentalist Mormon communities in Utah.

Since the killings, families of the victims have reached out to Lee and President Donald Trump asking for assistance. On Saturday, a petition to the White House began circulating on social media asking the U.S. government to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations. The petition was created by a family member of one of the victims.