SALT LAKE CITY — Several Utah family members of those killed in Mexico said they knew the drug cartel incidents were on the rise in Sonora but never thought this level of violence was possible.
As she watched the news and saw pictures of her family on the screen, Trish Cloes still couldn’t believe it.
“I actually know all of them. They are my family,” Cloes said. “There’s no words to describe it. You can’t make any sense of it.”
Cloes, who lives in Herriman, is on vacation in Italy but is ending her trip early to get back to family in Utah.
Especially with the news that nine members of her family were murdered in Mexico Monday.
“They are the most loving, most giving, they’re people of good faith. They are generous and they are kind. That’s why they were in shock that happened,” she said during a Facetime phone interview.
She’s even more devastated because children and infants are among those who were killed by drug cartel members in the area of Sonora where family members have lived for decades.
“They’ve never had any issues with any drug cartel whatsoever. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “They have nothing to do with them. Absolutely nothing.”
While officials have not given a motive, Drug Enforcement Administration agents said it appears the deceased were targeted with purpose.
“Nothing there looks accidental or haphazard, that looks like it was fully intended to go the way it did,” said DEA agent Brian Besser. “It was pretty pointed that those people were wanted dead and they killed them.”
Other family members, like Leah Staddon, who lives in Arizona, said the same thing.
“I think a lot of us are just speechless. It’s horrific,” Staddon said.
However, Staddon said some of her family members in the Sonora area were talking about leaving Mexico and moving back to the United States because of a growing concern with the cartels recently.
“Things that have happened with family members being pulled over by the mafia. Guns pointed at their vehicle,” Staddon said.
Even still, the family said no one could have predicted this level of violence.
“This is evil. Absolutely evil. And it’s a needless slaughter,” Cloes said. “I mean, it’s a needless act. It’s a slaughter. These women and children were slaughtered, and something needs to be done.”
Cloes said she hopes to get back to the United States tomorrow to be with family.
She also said she appreciated President Donald Trump’s tweet about her family and how he offered to help clean up the drug cartel issue.
....monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
“We are so grateful for his act of kindness and to even acknowledge our family,” Cloes said. “I know a lot of my family down there are worried about their safety now and it’s not safe.”
“Whatever it takes — that’s what we’re asking for,” said Natalie LeBaron, the sister-in-law of victim Dawna Langford. “We need help.”
She said Mexico and the U.S. working together might be the answer.
“If Trump is watching me, I just pray that he will be wise because it is serious,” LeBaron said. “We are not concerned with politics or who does it or how. We just want the help.”