LeBaron Family Murdered Mexico
The murdered victims include three women, four young children and two babies, said family member Alex LeBaron of Mexico. He said the nine were dual US and Mexican citizens.
The victims were “shot while they were in vehicles while driving,” LeBaron told CNN. Several children survived the attack.
Investigators believe that three vehicles traveling between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua were ambushed by criminal groups on Monday night, Mexican authorities said.
“Women and children were slaughtered, burned alive,” LeBaron said. “Mothers shouted for the fire to stop.”
Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said the attack could have been a case of mistaken identity of “groups in conflict in the area.”
What do we know about the ambush?
A group of three mothers and their 14 children left Bavispe in the state of Sonora in a convoy of three cars and drove to neighboring Chihuahua. At least nine people were killed after being attacked by armed men in Bavispe.
A burned SUV was later found with the remains of some roadside victims. Other family members were reportedly shot dead when they tried to escape.
An investigation has been launched and additional security forces sent to the area, the governments of Chihuahua and Sonora said in a joint statement.
Claudia Pavlovich Arellano, governor of the state of Sonora, described the authors as “monsters”.
“As a mother, I experience anger, disgust, and great pain over the cowardly actions in the mountains between Sonora and Chihuahua,” he wrote in Spanish on Twitter.
Julian LeBaron, cousin of one of the women, said he did not know what could have motivated the killings. He said it was two separate attacks.
“We want to know exactly who’s behind it, why they did it and where they’re from, and we need that information to be true,” he told Mexican Radio.
“We do not know who would attack women and children.”
Who are the victims?
LeBaron reported in detail in an interview for the Mexican radio station El Heraldo about the attacks.
His cousin Rhonita Miller and her four children, two of whom were babies, died in a car during the first attack, he said.
Another cousin, Dawna Ray Langford, and a woman named Christina Langford Johnson later left for separate cars and were attacked in a second attack, she said.
Both women were killed along with two of Ms. Ray Langford’s children at the age of four and six.
Faith Marie Johnson, seven months old, survived and was found in the car, according to his report by LeBaron.
Five other children were injured and taken to the Phoenix, Arizona hospital, LeBaron added.
Who are the Colonia LeBaron?
The victims were members of a community called Colonia LeBaron founded in the first half of the 20th century by a Mormon separatist group after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States began resolutely to crack down on polygamy.
The prevailing Mormon Church publicly rejected polygamy. It was custom to have more than one spouse at the same time in 1890, and since then, some groups have decided to continue the practice.
But the Mormon Church never gave up polygamy in its writings.
The community of Colonia LeBaron now includes both Mormons and Catholics who have settled there. Members are known to confront local drug gangs and talk about the high level of antitrust violence.
While local media claim that the car convoy may have been confused with that of a rival gang, the LeBaron community has been the target of billboards in the past. In 2009, Erick LeBaron was abducted by rescue. The community commented that she would not pay for her release as this would only encourage future kidnapping.
Erick LeBaron was finally released without paying a ransom. But months later his brother Benjamin, who led the campaign for the release of Erick LeBaron, was beaten to death. Benjamin’s brother-in-law was also killed.
In 2010, Julian LeBaron published an article in the Dallas Morning News calling on Mexicans to combat organized crime.
LeBaron told Mexican radio on Tuesday that his family had received threats. “We report the threats and these are the consequences,” he said.
Last year, there were also conflicts between the family and local farmers, who accused the LeBarons of using too much water to grow walnuts on their land. Presumably, the farms in the vicinity were left dry.
The municipality of Colonia LeBaron has in the past demanded that it be allowed to build its own security force.
How serious is drug-related violence in Mexico?
The power and influence of the Sinaloa cartel was demonstrated last month as its members barricaded the streets and collided with security forces in Culiacán after one of its leaders, Ovid Guzman Lopez, was arrested.
As the security forces were outnumbered and surrounded, the Mexican government made the controversial decision to release Ovid Guzman to prevent further bloodshed.