The ambush was aimed at Bavispe. The group of armed men attacked 3 mothers traveling with their 14 children to La Mora. Chihuahua State Attorney General: “The number of deaths is not definitive”
MEXICO CITY – A group of three mothers with their 14 children from an important Mormon family, left in a convoy of three cars from Bavispe, in the state of Sonora and headed for La Mora in the neighboring state of Chihuahua, yesterday was surrounded and massacred in broad daylight by armed men, probably members of a Mexican drug cartel.
Some of the victims, including the younger children tied to the car seat, were burned alive in cars. The LeBarón family, American Mormons, have lived in Mexico since the 1940s. Julian LeBarón, brother of Benjamin, founder of a crime-fighting group called SOS Chihuahua and murdered in 2009, described a terrifying scene in which a child was killed while escaping, a woman exited from the car and shot in the chest while others were trapped in the vehicles. Several members of the family, most of whom now also live in North Dakota, have published a video of a charred vehicle, with bullet holes and smoke coming out of the carcass: “It was a massacre”. Their call on social media to allow the government to react violently is shared by hundreds of users.
A few miles from the first car found in Bavispe, where the ambush was stretched, the police found the remains of the other two charred cars. An abandoned SUV on the side of the road had the remains of the victims inside. Family members say that the bodies are those of Rhonita Miller Le Barón and her four children: two six-month-old twins, an eight-year-old boy and a 10-year-old child. Rhonita was supposed to go to Phoenix to take her husband to celebrate ‘Wedding anniversary.
The reasons for the ambush are still unclear. According to President Trump who tweeted about the massacre, the family would have found themselves in the wrong place at the worst time, amid a firefight between two cartels.
The massacre takes place a decade after the kidnapping and murder of two other members of the LeBarón family, murdered after dealing with drug cartels that exercised control over the southern Arizona border lands.
Two other women and their 10 children were shot while trying to escape. “Six young children have been killed and seven have escaped and are alive,” LeBarón said. It is not clear how many survivors, some may have fled into the woods, added LeBarón. The state attorney general of Chihuahua State, Cesar Augusto Peniche, confirmed that the number of victims “is not yet definitive”.
The affected community is made up of the descendants of the Mormons who fled from the United States in the nineteenth century, after being persecuted for their traditions. Many Mormons in Mexico enjoy dual Mexican and American citizenship.