CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Confused hit men may have gone to the wrong party, the FBI said Tuesday as it cast doubt on fears that the slaying of three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate shows that Mexican drug cartels have launched an offensive against U.S. government employees.
Gunmen chased two white SUVs from the birthday party of a consulate employee's child on Saturday and opened fire as horrified relatives screamed. The two near-simultaneous attacks killed three adults and wounded at least two children.
According to one line of investigation, the assailants — believed to be aligned with the Juarez drug cartel — may have been ordered to attack a white SUV leaving a party and mistakenly went to the "Barquito de Papel," which puts on children's parties.
"We don't have any information that these folks were directly targeted because of their employment by the U.S. government or their U.S. citizenship," FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said.
Experts also cast doubt on the idea that drug cartels would be turning their guns on U.S. government employees.
"A systematic, nationwide shift to the use of such tactics would work against drug traffickers' interests," said Allyson Benton, an analyst with the Eurasia Group. "It would dramatically raise the level of both Mexican and U.S. governmental involvement in the fight against organized crime."