Mexican police chief arrested in connection with November slaying of 9 Mormons

The police chief of a small town in Mexico has been arrested in connection with a massacre that left nine people dead after an ambush in the state of Sonora on Nov. 4, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Federal authorities have reportedly arrested Fidel Alejandro Villegas, the police chief of the town of Janos in Chihuahua, Mexico, as part of their investigation into the murders. On Nov. 4, six women and three children from a Mormon community with ties to the U.S. were shot and burned to death during a roadside attack while driving in a caravan to the United States, according to authorities.

Mexican officials have attributed the attack to organized crime in Sonora, a state that shares a border with the U.S.

Citing a spokesman for Mexico’s Public Security Ministry, The New York Times reported that Villegas was arrested “on suspicion of protecting organized crime in the region and of colluding in the killings.”

Villegas is the fourth person arrested in connection with the killings.

15 PHOTOS
9 Americans killed in drug cartel shooting in Mexico
See Gallery
9 Americans killed in drug cartel shooting in Mexico
TOPSHOT - Members of the Lebaron family mourn while they watch the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an gunmen ambush on Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered Tuesday to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Map locates the site of the cartel killings of at least nine US citizens in the Mexican state of Sonoma;
A member of the Lebaron family looks at the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ / AFP) (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
This frame from Nov. 4, 2019, video by Kenny Miller and posted on the Twitter account of Alex LeBaron shows a burned-out vehicle that was being used by some members of the LeBaron family as they were driving in a convoy near the Sonora-Chihuahua border in Mexico. Mexican authorities say drug cartel gunmen ambushed multiple vehicles, including this one, slaughtering several women and children. (Kenny Miller/Courtesy of Alex LeBaron via AP)
This frame from Nov. 4, 2019, video by Kenny Miller and posted on the Twitter account of Alex LeBaron shows a burned-out vehicle that was being used by some members of the LeBaron family as they were driving in a convoy near the Sonora-Chihuahua state border in Mexico. Mexican authorities say drug cartel gunmen ambushed multiple vehicles, including this one, slaughtering several women and children. (Kenny Miller/Courtesy of Alex LeBaron via AP)
People stand near the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the Lebaron family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by Herika MARTINEZ / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: byline should read [Herika MARTINEZ] instead of [STRINGER]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
This photo shows a view of the car where part of the nine murdered members of the LeBaron family were killed during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by Herika MARTINEZ / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: byline should read [Herika MARTINEZ] instead of [STRINGER]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Members of the Lebaron family look at the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ / AFP) (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard is pictured in the place where members of the Lebaron family were killed and burned during an gunmen ambush on Bavispe, Sonora mountains, Mexico, on November 5, 2019. - US President Donald Trump offered Tuesday to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Chihuahua state police officers man a checkpoint in Janos, Chihuahua state, northern Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering six children and three women, all U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
A car passes through Colonia LeBaron, one of many locations where the extended LeBaron family lives in the Galeana municipality of Chihuahua state in northern Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed on Monday three vehicles along a road near the state border of Chihuahua and Sonora, slaughtering at least six children and three women from the extended LeBaron family, all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
In this photo provided by the Sonora state Health Secretary, children of the extended LeBaron family, who were injured in an ambush are taken aboard a Mexican Airforce helicopter to be flown to the Mexico-U.S. border, from the border between the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora, Monday, Nov.4, 2019. The children were injured when drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering six children and three women, all U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk. (Sonora state Health Secretary via AP)
People walk into the emergency room at the hospital treating some of the children injured in an ambush on members of the American Mormon community near the US-Mexico border, in Tucson, Arizona, on November 5, 2019. - Gunmen ambushed the members of the LeBaron family -- a large clan of Mormons who emigrated to Mexico in the late 19th century -- on a rural road on November 4, between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, which border the United States. US President Donald Trump offered on November 5 to help Mexico "wage war" on its cartels after three women and six children from an American Mormon community were murdered in an area notorious for drug traffickers. (Photo by Sébastien VUAGNAT / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN VUAGNAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Madelyn Staddon, right, a relative of some of the members of a Mormon community who were attacked while traveling near the US-Mexico border, embraces a neighbor outside her home, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Queen Creek, Ariz. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three vehicles along a road near the state border of Chihuahua and Sonora on Monday, slaughtering at least six children and three women from the extended LeBaron family, all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Austin Cloes points to a photo of relatives Rhonita Miller and her family, who were killed in Mexico, on a computer screen Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Herriman, Utah. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering at least six children and three women all of them U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk, authorities said Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

On Dec. 1, Mexico’s attorney general announced the arrest of three other suspects believed to have links to the massacre.

Authorities initially suggested that a cartel may have mistakenly targeted the family, thinking they were members of a rival gang. However, members of this particular Mormon community — a fundamentalist colony based in Mexico known as the LeBarons — have been targeted by cartels in the past.

Benjamin LeBaron and his brother-in-law were shot and killed in 2009 in Chihuahua after Benjamin successfully advocated for the release of his brother Eric, who had been kidnapped and held hostage — by cartels, many believe — earlier that year.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Read Full Story