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Palm Beach Gardens relative of victims in Mexico ambush calls cartels 'nothing but broken families'

Posted at 12:04 AM, Nov 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-06 07:01:20-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — At least nine Americans including six children were murdered in the Mexican state of Sonora. Authorities are calling it an ambush attack terrifying those on both sides of the U.S. border. It’s a personal act of violence that's caused one Palm Beach Gardens woman to speak it.

Elisa Steele is a social media influencer. Her Instagram account calls attention to her activism and values. But this week she found herself writing about her own family.

”Real life gangs and mafia and cartels. They’re nothing but broken families and dead fathers and dead mothers and dead babies,” said Steele.

Her second cousin is one of the nine relatives -- all U.S. citizens killed in northern Mexico. It is a place she also once lived until her mother fled with her kids.

”Living in utter poverty in Mexico where the mafia was a danger, and she escaped that with myself and my younger brother,” she said.

The Mexican government said a total of three SUV’s were hit in the assault. This isn’t the first time the family has faced tragedy. Steele said approximately 15 years ago her cousins were held by cartels for ransom and later killed.

But she says Northern Mexico is a place her relatives - dual citizens - built their lives.

In response to their death the President Trump tweeted, “The United States is willing and able to get involved.”

The Undersecretary for Homeland Security also described the attack as “a stark example of how these brutal organizations operate on a daily basis.”

”At first you're feeling vindicated. Thank you for recognizing that this is a problem,” Steele said.

But she adds there needs to be a serious discussion between both nations.

”Without a clear path forward and involvement from the U.S. military I don’t see how my family will become safe,” she said. “Because it’s not just about seeking justice for these who have been killed.”

At least five of the survivors are being treated at a Tucson, Arizona, hospital as investigators on both sides of the border search for the killers.