Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

Mormons leaving after Mexico violence arrive in Arizona

Members of the Lebaron family watch the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an gunmen ambush on Bavispe Sonora mountains Mexico Family members console each other at the site where one car exploded during attacks that are being blamed on Mexico's powerful drug cartels
Patty Aguilar | 10 November, 2019, 13:12

Some wept, and some sang hymns.

Mexican investigators say the victims could have been mistaken for rivals of a drug trafficking cartel called La Linea. Farmers and teenage boys carried the coffins.

Members of breakaway Mormon communities that settled in Mexico decades ago, the three families were ambushed as they drove along a dirt track in Sonora state, leading to U.S. President Donald Trump urging Mexico and the United States to "wage war" together on the drug cartels.

A 13-year-old boy walked for six hours to get help for his ambushed family after hiding his brothers and sisters in the bushes in Mexico to keep them safe from gunfire.

Eight other children managed to escape, six of them wounded.

Another wake was held nearby for the other victims: Dawna Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, two; and Christina Langford, 31.

What had been a largely peaceful existence in a fertile valley ringed by rugged mountains and desert scrub about 70 miles (112 kilometres) from the border with Arizona became increasingly risky in recent years as the cartels exerted their power and battled each other in a region that is a drug smuggling hotbed.

There was no talk of revenge in the deeply religious community, only justice.

"The eyes of the world are upon what happened here, and there are saints all over this world whose hearts have been touched", Dawna's father, Jay Ray, said in a eulogy quoted by the Associated Press.

"We have come to honour their memory and to try to understand what is happening", said Alex LeBaron, who led the convoy of vehicles. "I usually am a very forgiving guy, but this kind of atrocity has no place in a civilized community".

"I just think the innocence is gone", Darger said.

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The youngest of Devin's siblings, 9-month old Oliver, was shot in the chest; 8-year-old Cody had bullet wounds to the jaw and the leg, while Xander, 4, had been hit in the back.

"Dawna was a person who was full of life".

The three mothers and 14 children were in three vehicles that left from a small village in Sonora to meet with relatives in neighboring Chihuahua state and Phoenix, Arizona.

Miller was eulogized as an "innocent spirit, lovely heart" and a woman whose laugh "could light up a room". All three mothers lost their lives in the slaughter.

Their bodies were to be taken later across the road where they died for burial in Colonia Le Baron. Many residents of the two communities that lie a five-hour, bone-jarring drive apart are related.

Patrols of Mexican army troops passed by regularly on the hamlet's only paved road.

All of them dual U.S.

Authorities and relatives say the killings appeared to be the work of the Juarez and the Sinaloa cartels, which fight for control of lucrative drug routes that run through the sparsely populated mountainous areas into the United States.

In statements to local and global media, the relatives suggest they may have been punished by La Linea for living in relative calm alongside a gang called Los Salazar, a splinter from the Sinaloa Cartel. He said the eight children who survived reported that one mother got out of her SUV and raised her hands and was gunned down anyway.

The biggest concern for residents is finding out why the women and children were massacred.

Her mother Christina Langford Johnson, who died in the tragedy, has been credited with saving her daughter's life after stashing her vehicle seat on the floor of her SUV as gunfire rang out. "A lot of people are going to leave".

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