The Tragic Violent History Of Mormon Family Killed By Cartel
Details have emerged about the Mormon family who were shot and burnt alive during a daylight attack in Northern Mexico.
Rhonita Miller, Dawna Ray Langford, Christina Langford and six of their children were ambushed by gunmen, believed to be members of a drug cartel, at the border of Chihuahua and Sonora on Monday.
Chilling footage shows the charred and smoking remains of an SUV riddled with bullet holes. Police claim they found more than 200 bullet casings at the scene, mostly from assault rifles.
Among the victims were eight-month-old twins.
At least six children managed to escape the massacre, fleeing the convoy of vehicles and hiding in bushland until it was safe to call emergency services. One boy, aged just 13, hid his siblings, many of whom had suffered gunshot wounds, before walking more than 22 kilometres to get help.
Five are in hospital with varying injuries -- one suffered a gunshot wound to the face, another to the back.
All of the victims were U.S. citizens and members of the extended LeBaron family who had been living in a breakaway Mormon settlement at La Mora for decades.
It's not the first time the family has had a violent run-in with the drug cartel.
In 2009, Erick LeBaron was kidnapped for a US$1 million ransom but the community took a stand, refusing to pay up for his release. He was eventually let go.
Months later, his brother Benjamin, who led the push for Erick's release, was beaten to death. His brother-in-law was also killed in an act of apparent revenge after security forces tracked drug gang members.
In the wake of the violence, a relative, Julian LeBaron, published an article in the Dallas Morning News calling for Mexicans to stand up against organised crime.
On Tuesday, he told Reuters that while he isn't certain who carried out the most recent attack, his family had received threats.
“We don’t know why, though they had received indirect threats. We don’t know who did it,” LeBaron said.
Some family members had been pulled over and threatened with guns in recent months, reports the Washington Post.
Another relative, Alex LeBaron is confident it was a targetted attack.
“We’ve been here for more than 50 years. There’s no-one who doesn’t know them. Whoever did this was aware. That’s the most terrifying,” he said.
However, Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo suggested the massacre may have been victims of mistaken identity, given the high number of confrontations among warring drug gangs in the area.
While it has been confirmed that criminal gangs were responsible, officials have not explicitly said that a drug cartel was behind the attack.
Violence in Mexico has escalated in 2019 with more than 100 people killed each day a result of drug-related violence, CNN reports.
U.S. President Donald Trump said that it was time to "wage war" on the drug cartels.
"If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively," he tweeted.
"This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!"
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador politely declined help from the United States.
"At the end of this press conference, I will communicate with [Trump] to inform him [about the incident]. I will thank him for his support and we will discuss if we need assistance. I do not believe that we will. It's Mexico's responsibility," he said.
“We don’t think that by opening fire, massacring, using force, blood and fire, we will resolve this problem".
No arrests have been made.