A federal judge in North Dakota ruled that the Juarez Cartel must pay $1.5 billion for the murders of nine women and children of the LeBaron family in Bavispe, Sonora. Family members of the victims filed a lawsuit accusing the Juarez Cartel of carrying out the November 2019 attack in Mexico in retaliation for their public criticism and protests against the cartel.
Cartel members fired hundreds of bullets at the vehicles and then set them on fire. Mexican authorities said in 2020 that the mastermind of the attack was arrested, as well as 16 other people. The amount stipulated by U.S. Judge Clare Hochhalter will automatically triple under the federal anti-terrorism law. The government can freeze the assets of terrorist organizations, but it is unclear whether the Treasury Department has any assets of the cartel.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that the cartel did not respond to a published subpoena or have representation at a trial held in North Dakota in March.
Surviving family members include two widowers of murdered women who were working in North Dakota at the time the lawsuit was filed. Their attorney said several family members lived in the state and worked in the oil industry while traveling back and forth to Mexico.
"We went to a U.S. court in North Dakota seeking some recognition and some kind of justice for the trauma inflicted on our family, and we have received it," said David Langford, the husband of one of the victims.