A group of cartel gunman have slaughtered three mothers and six children from a rural Mormon community located close to the Mexican border.
Six more children, all from the same family, were also wounded in the vicious attack and one girl remains missing.
Relatives stated that all the members of the family are dual U.S. and Mexican citizens.
The attack took place on Monday when three women from the Lebaron family were driving their 14 children from the town of Bavispe, Sonora, to a rural Mormon community called La Mora.
According to Mexico’s SinEmbargo.com.mx, Rhonita Miller Lebaron was driving one of the vehicles with her four children–two six-month-old twins and two ages 8 and 9–when her SUV got a flat tire. Her relatives turned back towards Bavispe to bring a spare.
Asi se vive en el Gobierno de @lopezobrador_ Mormones Mexicanos, mujeres y niños inocentes emboscados en la Sierra de Chihuahua son acribillados y quemados vivos por los Carteles que mandan en Mexico! @Javier_Corral @revistaproceso @CarlosLoret @CiroGomezL pic.twitter.com/uQNJYbeO73
— LeBaron (@AlexLebaron1) November 4, 2019
When the relatives returned, they found large plumes of smoke coming from the roadside scene. The relatives found a charred SUV with their loved inside the vehicle.
Soon after, a group of cartel gunmen attacked and forced them to run into the brush for cover.
@realDonaldTrump The mafia in a Mexico have killed 4 and kidnapped 10 of my family this morning. They are all American citizens. All women and children. Please help us find and save them! We’ve gone to the Mexican government for help, and have received little. We are desperate. pic.twitter.com/IoSgW1sYgC
— Tiffany Langford (@TiffanyLangfor8) November 4, 2019
The two other women and their children were struck numerous times by gunfire. Six of the children ran into the brush and survived, but one young girl is still missing. In the aftermath, cartel gunmen sealed the area for hours to keep news of the massacre from spreading.
Lebaron family members in the U.S. took to social media to raise awareness about the murders.
Trevor 11 años, feliz. El rostro de las victimas del crimen organizado… DEP pic.twitter.com/XennuUiu9R
— LeBaron (@AlexLebaron1) November 5, 2019
Update: Additional information was provided by Leah Staddon, to AZ Central, the outlet reported:
Staddon originally thought 10 relatives had been killed. Mexican authorities said Tuesday that nine people had been killed, and that four children were injured in the attack.
Staddon said her nephew’s wife and her four children, among them twin 4-month-old babies, died in the blaze.
She said her brother discovered the bullet-ridden vehicle still smoldering with the charred bodies inside and shot the video as evidence.
Mexican authorities described the victims:
- They said bodies of one woman and four children were found inside a burned Chevrolet Tahoe.
- Three more people, a woman and two children, were found dead in a white Suburban nearby.
- The body of a woman was found in a second white Suburban.
“It’s devastating,” Staddon said. “It’s incomprehensible, the evil. I don’t understand how someone could do that.”
The Security Committee of Sonora confirmed late Monday that authorities in Sonora and Chihuahua were investigating an attack that occurred earlier in the day involving a burned vehicle and the kidnapping of several people.
The Security Committee did not verify any of the deaths.
The investigation involved municipal and state police; the state attorney general’s office; the army; and the National Guard, which had launched an air and land operation in the area where the incident occurred, according to a written statement provided to The Arizona Republic.
Staddon said the families may have been mistakenly targeted by warring drug cartels in the region.
On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump appeared to reference the attack in a series of tweets.
“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, including young children, and some missing,” Trump wrote in one Twitter message.
“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!” Trump wrote in another.
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