21 | NOV | 2019
The LeBarón family: Polygamy, murders & NXIVM
The LeBarón family descends from a fundamentalist Mormon branch with a sordid past - Photo: EFE/Luis Torres

The sordid story behind the LeBarón family

06/11/2019
15:02
Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English
Mexico City
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On November 4, members of the LeBarón family were massacred in a road between Chihuahua and Sonora

On November 4, three women and six children were killed by an armed group in the mountains between the states of Chihuahua and Sonora. It was reported that they were all Mormons and members of the LeBarón family, a Mexican-American community that settled in Mexico almost 100 years ago.
 

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A family member shows an Instagram story memorializing her family members from the LeBarón family were attacked in Mexico - Photo: Nicole Neri/REUTERS

 

Nevertheless, this is not the first time the LeBarón community has faced violence. After criminals groups realized the LaBarón community was accumulating certain wealth, they started to extortion and kidnap them.

The LeBarón community was targeted by criminal organizations in 2009 when 17-year-old Eric LeBarón was kidnapped. His family then launched a series of peaceful protests to demand his release and refused to pay the USD $1 million ransom. Two months later, Benjamín LeBarón and Luis Widmar were kidnapped and murdered by a criminal group for their activism.

The LeBarón family arrives in Mexico

The LeBarón family arrived in Mexico in 1900 but established themselves in northern Mexico in the 1920s when Alma Dayer LeBarón, a fundamentalist Mormon, arrived in Mexico after he was excommunicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1924 for continuing to practice polygamy after the church banned it in 1890.
 

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After the church banned polygamy, many of its members fled to Mexico and Canada - Photo: Nicole Neri/REUTERS

 

Alma Dayer LeBarón founded Colonia LeBarón, a Mormon community, in the municipality of Galeana, in the state of Chihuahua and around 5,000 of his descendants live there and consider themselves Mormons. Now, the Mormon community of Colonia LeBarón has moved away from polygamy and was built wealth thanks to farming.

Nevertheless, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't recognize the LeBarón community as part of it.

In her book The Sound of Gravel, Ruth Wariner, the granddaughter of Alma LeBarón, tells the story of her childhood in Mexico “My great grandfather was a polygamous Mormon and 1902, he brought his wife and children to Mexico as the first Mormon migration wave. Back then, there were six established Mormon colonies in northern Mexico and around 3,500 fundamentalists living in the area. My grandfather, Alma Dayer LeBarón grew up traveling between the U.S. and Mexico until 1924, when he crossed the U.S. border to Mexico to live there permanently. He moved to Mexico to avoid being lynched by an angry mob of U.S. Mormons who chased him for practicing polygamy.”

 

According to Ruth, Alma LeBarón married a woman named Maud and later married an 18-year-old girl. The three of them moved to Mexico, along with his seven older siblings. During this trip, Maud became pregnant with Ervil LeBarón, who would later become the leader of a polygamous Mormon fundamentalist group who ordered the killings of his opponents and was sentenced to life in prison in the U.S.

According to the memoir, Alma Dayer LeBarón began to build his community in Mexico in 1944, a place where the fundamentalist Mormon community could prosper and practice polygamy.

Currently. the LeBarón descendants and their families use English as their main language and have prospered by working on the pecan industry, agriculture, and livestock.

NXIVM

According to the New York Post, members of Keith Raniere's cult recruited girls from the LeBarón family to work as nannies in New York, “suggesting at least in part that the jobs would get the girls away from their home region’s drug violence.”

In a documentary filmed by Mark Vicente, which later turned into propaganda to recruit women into NXIVM, Julián LeBarón and other members of the LeBarón family receive advise by Raniere on how to handle the 2009 kidnap of Erick LeBarón and widespread violence in the region.

The LeBarón family has been under threat for a decade

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