21 | NOV | 2019
Mormon family ambushed and massacred in Mexico
At least 9 members of the Mormon community were killed in Mexico - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Mormon family ambushed and massacred in Mexico

05/11/2019
09:34
Mexico City
Lizbeth Diaz, David Alire Garcia, ALberto Morales, Alejandra Canchola, Ibeth Mancinas,
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Back in 2009, the LeBarón family was struck by crime after two of its members were kidnapped

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On Monday, gunmen killed up to nine members of a U.S. Mormon family, mainly children in a road between Chihuahua and Sonora states, in the Bavispe community.

The victims belonged to the LeBarón family from a Mormon community that settled in northern Mexico decades ago. Mormons of Germanic origin left the U.S. and settled in northern Mexico in the 1920s. The group broke away from the mainstream Mormon church when it abandoned polygamous marriages.

Two relatives told Reuters that nine people died, although a government source had previously confirmed five deaths.

A video posted on social media showed the charred remains of a vehicle riddled with bullet holes that was carrying the victims when the ambush happened.

“This is for the record,” says a male voice in an American accent, off-camera, choking up with emotion.

“Nita and four of my grandchildren are burnt and shot up.”

Violence besieges Mexico

Julián LeBarón, an activist, described the incident as a “massacre,” saying some family members were burnt alive. He said other injured members of the LeBarón family were being treated in Phoenix, Arizona.

He said four boys, two girls, and three women were killed.

“We don’t know why, though they had received indirect threats. We don’t know who did it,” he said.

Later, Julián LeBarón said that several children fled the attack but were lost in the countryside for hours before being found.

“My cousin was murdered with her children in the truck,” Alex LeBarón said, adding he believed nine people died.

In 2010, two members of the Chihuahua Mormon community, including one from the LeBarón family, were killed in apparent revenge after security forces tracked drug cartel members. In Mexico, the Mormon community has suffered widespread kidnappings.

Later, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau said he was following the incident closely.

“The security of our co-nationals is our great priority,” he said on Twitter.

Today, during President López Obrador's news conference, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo confirmed that 9 people were killed, including 6 children and three women, other 6 members of the LeBarón family were wounded, and a girl is reportedly still missing.

Over 11,000 people displaced by violence in Mexico

Durazo explained that the LeBarón family was traveling in three trucks from Galeana, in Chihuahua, to Bavispe, in Sonora around 1 p.m. when the Mormon family was ambushed and massacred by an armed group.

U.S. President Donald Trump offered help to the Mexican government after the attack launched against the LeBarón family, which includes U.S. citizens, President López Obrador and Trump are expected to discuss the issue today.

The Mormon community in Mexico

The LeBarón community inhabits Chihuahua, mainly in the Galeana, Ascensión, and Nuevo Casas Grandes municipalities. They are part of a fundamentalist Mormon branch founded by Alma Dayer LeBarón in 1942.

Back in 2009, Erick LeBarón, a 17-year-old boy was kidnapped in Mexico. After the family refused to pay the USD $1 million ransom and decided to protests against widespread violence and crime until Erick was freed.

Two months later, Benjamín LeBarón and Luis Widmar Stubss were kidnapped and killed by a criminal group. The criminals said the reason behind the murders were the communities' activism against violence and insecurity.

Julián LeBarón then became one of the most prominent members of this Mormon community after his brother Benjamín LeBarón was murdered and after joining the peace movement in Mexico.

Drug cartels war puts Mexico in violence blacklist

Today, during President López Obrador's news conference, it was revealed that a cartel named La Línea, part of the Juaréz cartel, could be behind the murder of the Mormon family

General Homero Mendoza explained that one of the lines of investigation is that La Línea deployed a criminal group to the limits between Sonora and Chihuahua, to fight Los Sálazar, a criminal group that is part of the Pacific Ocean cartel

Mendoza explained that the Mexican-American families weren't traveling in a convoy and that according to testimonies, the first truck was attacked at 9:40 a.m. and the others were attacked at 11:00 a.m.

Moreover, the weapons and firearms used to massacre the three Mormon women and six children were produced in the U.S. by Remington

Today, Julián LeBarón told EL UNIVERSAL that the Mormon community didn't receive help from state authorities from Chihuahua and Sonora and explained that it was the LeBarón family, with the support of the Federal Police and the Army, who arrived at the crime scene where they found a baby alive inside one of the cars. LeBarón said the community will continue to live in Mexico

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