A drug cartel must pay $4.6 billion to American families whose loved ones were murdered in a 2019 attack in Mexico, the Bismarck Tribune reports.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Clare Hochhalter ruled that the Juarez cartel must pay the families of nine women and children whom cartel members gunned down and burned to death. The cartel reportedly blasted hundreds of rounds of bullets into vehicles carrying the Americans.
The victims belonged to a Mormon community that had publicly criticized the cartel, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
After the gunfire, cartel members set the vehicles on fire. Seventeen people were later arrested for the attack, according to CBS News.
Hochhalter, of the District of North Dakota, ordered that the cartel must pay $1.5 billion to the families, an award that will be tripled automatically under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The ruling enables the families to collect any cartel assets that may have been frozen or seized by the government. It was not immediately clear whether authorities have any such assets in their possession or control.
The cartel reportedly did not have representation at the trial, which was held in March in North Dakota.
Victims of the attack have been identified as Rhonita Miller and her children: 12-year-old Howard, 10-year-old Krystal and infant twins Tiana and Titus. Also killed in the attack were 43-year-old Dawna Langford, 29-year-old Christina Marie Langford Johnson, and her children Trevor and Rogan.
David Langford, the husband of one of the victims, explained why he pursued a lawsuit against the cartel.
“We went into a United States courtroom in North Dakota seeking some acknowledgment of and measure of justice for the trauma inflicted on our family and we received it,” David Langford told the Tribune.
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[Feature Photo: LeBaron Family/Facebook]