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Relatives of slain Mormon family say Mexican cartels are ‘worse than ISIS’

The grieving relatives of nine Americans slaughtered in Mexico say the drug cartels are ‘worse than ISIS’ as they urge the U.S. to step in because they are living in constant fear and are now considering abandoning their Mormon community. 

Funerals began on Thursday in Sonora state for three of the nine LeBaron family victims after the Mexican government said they were caught in the crossfire of a territorial feud between two rival drug cartels.  

Three women and six children were shot dead, while five children were seriously injured, when they were attacked on Monday after leaving their La Mora religious community – a decades-old settlement that is a breakaway of the Mormon church. 

Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, were laid to rest in La Mora on Thursday. 

Funerals for Christina Langford Johnson and Rhonita Miller and her four children – six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, Krystal, 10, and Howard, 12 – are expected to be held in Colonia LeBaron, which is another settlement in nearby Chihuahua state,  on Friday.   

Funerals began on Thursday in Sonora state for three of the nine LeBaron family victims after the Mexican government said they were caught in the crossfire of a territorial feud between two rival drug cartels

Sadness and anger has gripped grieving relatives in the wake of the tragedy as some urged Mexico’s leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to accept President Donald Trump’s offer to help crush the gangs.  

‘I really believe that the cartels in Mexico have moved to another level of barbarity, they are as bad or worse than ISIS. ISIS have an ideology,’ said Rosa LeBaron, 65, whose cousins, nieces and nephews died in the attacks. 

‘These sicarios (hitmen), why are they doing it? Out of greed and pure evil.’

She said Mexico needed to overcome pride and accept outside help from a neighboring country or international coalition, like the United Nations, to stamp out the cartels.

‘This is so beyond comprehension, we’re living like we’re in Afghanistan, 100 miles from the U.S. border,’ LeBaron said.

President Lopez Obrador said he believed that Mexico could resolve its security problems without foreign ‘intervention,’ but he has opened the door to FBI cooperation provided the country’s national sovereignty is not violated. 

After holding the first of the funerals, residents say they have now been left to come to grips with the fear the attacks inspired. 

Rhonita Miller and her four children - six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, Krystal, 10, and Howard, 12 - were among the nine gunned down on Monday. Their coffins are pictured above ahead of their funerals on Friday

Rhonita Miller and her four children – six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, Krystal, 10, and Howard, 12 – were among the nine gunned down on Monday. Their coffins are pictured above ahead of their funerals on Friday

Late on Thursday, a memorial was held for Rhonita Miller and four of her children, all of whom also were murdered on the road between La Mora and Chihuahua state

Late on Thursday, a memorial was held for Rhonita Miller and four of her children, all of whom also were murdered on the road between La Mora and Chihuahua state

A young boy sobs as he reads a eulogy during the funeral service of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, after they were killed by drug cartel gunmen

A young boy sobs as he reads a eulogy during the funeral service of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, after they were killed by drug cartel gunmen

Men were spotted digging a mass grave on Thursday in La Mora - the community where the nine victims lived. Funerals for a number of the victims are being held there

Men were spotted digging a mass grave on Thursday in La Mora – the community where the nine victims lived. Funerals for a number of the victims are being held there

‘I do not feel safe here, and I won’t, because the truth is we aren’t safe here as a community,’ David Langford said between tears as he addressed mourners at the funeral for his wife, Dawna.

While the sibling community of Colonia Le Baron has been peaceful since the 2009 murder of one of its members and subsequent installation of a security base, La Mora lacks such a presence – at least until Monday’s killings prompted state and federal forces to deploy to protect those who came to mourn. How long they stay could be crucial to its future. 

‘We here in the mountains, we have no access to authorities, or very, very little,’ David Langford said. 

The burials on Thursday took place as Mexican soldiers stood guard, a reminder of the dangers they face living amid a drug cartel turf war. 

Steven Langford, a former La Mora mayor whose sister Christina Langford was among the women killed, warned that their community was ‘going to become a ghost town’.

‘A lot of people are going to leave,’ he said.  

The first funeral was for a mother and two sons who were laid to rest in hand-made pine coffins in a single grave in La Mora’s small cemetery. 

In a raw, tearful service, relatives recounted valiant efforts to try to rescue their loved ones after the ambush, and how some of the children walked miles out of the mountains to the town.

Rhonita Miller and four of her children – her six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, her 10-year-old daughter Krystal and 12-year-old son Howard – were all killed. Another two mothers, Dawna Langford and Christina Langford Johnson, as well as Dawna’s sons, Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, were also all killed

The nine LeBaron family victims, including three mothers and six children, were gunned down on Monday morning while traveling in three SUVS from the Mormon community where they live in Sonora state

The nine LeBaron family victims, including three mothers and six children, were gunned down on Monday morning while traveling in three SUVS from the Mormon community where they live in Sonora state

Soldiers assigned to Mexico's National Guard stand by a bullet-riddled vehicle belonging to one of the mothers gunned down in the cartel ambush that killed nine

Soldiers assigned to Mexico’s National Guard stand by a bullet-riddled vehicle belonging to one of the mothers gunned down in the cartel ambush that killed nine

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

‘God will take care of the wicked,’ Jay Ray, Dawna’s father, said in a eulogy.

David Langford called his wife a hero for telling her children to duck as their vehicle came under fire.

‘I find it hard to forgive,’ he said. ‘I usually am a very forgiving guy, but this kind of atrocity has no place in a civilized community.

‘My children were brutally, brutally murdered… and my beloved wife.’

Of the survivors, he said, son Cody had a plate installed in his jaw, which was being wired shut for six weeks.

Dawna’s younger sister Amber Ray, 34, eulogized her as a devoted mother to her 13 children and homemaker who loved a good laugh and baked the best birthday cakes around.

‘There isn’t anything in life that a cup of coffee couldn’t make better,’ Amber said Dawna was fond of saying.

The three coffins, two of them child-size, were placed into the beds of pickup trucks, and family members rode with them to the grave as hundreds of mourners following on foot.

Later in the day, a memorial was held for Rhonita Miller and four of her children, all of whom also were murdered on the road between La Mora and Chihuahua state.

Escorted by heavily armed Mexican authorities, relatives of the LeBaron family mourn at the site where nine were gunned down on Monday

Escorted by heavily armed Mexican authorities, relatives of the LeBaron family mourn at the site where nine were gunned down on Monday

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guard a caravan of friends and relatives of the LeBaron family on Wednesday ahead of the funerals planned for the nine victims

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guard a caravan of friends and relatives of the LeBaron family on Wednesday ahead of the funerals planned for the nine victims

In a grassy backyard before hundreds of attendees, she was eulogized as an ‘innocent spirit, beautiful heart’ and a woman whose laugh ‘could light up a room.’

Son Howard Jr. loved basketball and recently was delighted to make his first three-pointer; daughter Kristal was ‘the apple of her daddy’s eye;’ twins Titus and Tiana, born March 13, were remembered as ‘two perfect angels in the first precious moments of their lives.’

Their bodies were to be taken later across the road where they died for burial in Colonia Le Baron. The two communities, whose residents are related, drew together in a show of grief.

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

Gunmen from the Juarez drug cartel had apparently set up the ambush as part of a turf war with the Sinaloa cartel, and the U.S. families drove into it.

Mexican officials said the attackers may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang.

But Julian LeBaron, whose brother Benjamin, an anti-crime activist, was killed by cartel gunmen in 2009, disputed that.

‘They had to have known that it was women and children,’ he said. 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.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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