At least three women and six children belonging to a fundamentalist Mormon family were killed in a suspected cartel attack in Northern Mexico on Monday. Two of the children were six-month-old twins. Most of the victims of the attack held dual citizenship in Mexico and the United States.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the incident, “a wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed.”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
According to the Mexican media, the Mormon group consisted of three mothers and 14 children that set off in a convoy of vehicles from Bavispe in the Sonora state and were heading to a wedding in La Mora in Chihuahua. The convoy was ambushed by gunmen in Bavispe.
According to reports, one vehicle driven by Maria Ronita LeBaron had a flat tire and, as she stopped to address it, the convoy was attacked. Lebaron and four children, including the twin infants, were killed and the vehicle was set afire. As the other two vehicles turned around, they too were attacked.
“This is how we live under the government of @lopezobrador,” Alex LeBaron tweeted. “Mexican Mormons, innocent women and children were ambushed in the Chihuahua sierra, shot and burned alive by the Cartels that rule in Mexico!”
A burned out SUV, with the remains of some family members inside, was discovered shortly afterwards. The remains of other family members that were shot as they attempted to flee were found around the scene.
This evidence seems to suggest that the family was indeed the target of the attack, rather than unfortunate bystanders in a firefight between warring cartels.
Seven children are believed to have escaped the carnage.
The family members reportedly belong to on offshoot of the Mormon Church that broke away from the religion in the early 20th century after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began barring polygamy. The Colonia LeBaron community in Mexico today includes both Mormons and Catholics. They have been known, in the past, to speak out against cartel violence in Mexico.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked President Trump for his offer of support, but said that Mexico would act with “independence and sovereignty” in the pursuit of those responsible for the attack.