Mexico Ambush


Huda Khan
(Picture: Getty Images)

On Monday November 4, 2019, in Northern Mexico, a gun attack by suspected Mexican drug cartel on a group of US Mormons, caused a 13 year old boy to walk 23km, or 14 miles to get help after hiding his siblings in the bushes. Three women and six children were killed during the attack, but luckily eight children survived. Five of the surviving children have bullet wounds. The LeBaron family are the victims, they settled in Mexico decades ago and were linked to the Mormon community. The group could have been attacked due to a mistaken identity according to Mexico’s security minister, but the family says that the community speaks out about cartel violence, and have been threatened before. 

La Línea, which is linked to the larger Juárez cartel, and Los Chapos, which is part of the Sinaloa cartel are two rival gangs who are fighting over Sonora State in Northern Mexico. There is one person who has been arrested and is being investigated for any links to the attack. Found on the border town of Agua Prieta, the suspect had a haul of weapons and two hostages who were gagged, inside of a vehicle. 

Monday morning in Sonora state, three mothers and their 14 children set off in three different cars from the La Mora community. According to BBC news, “the women were traveling together for safety reasons.” All three of the cars were at different points when they were ambushed near Bavispe. Traveling with eight of his siblings and his mother, was 13-year-old Devin Langford. Unfortunately two of his brother and his mother, Dawna Langford, were killed in the attack. He managed to escape with six of his siblings, and hid them in the bushes. Taking about six hours, he walked 14 miles to get to the community’s base in La Mora. Nine-year-old Mckenzie Langford, his sister, left the five siblings to walk around for four hours looking for Devin when he didn’t return. She was found 11 hours after the attack by community members. 

The victims included 30-year-old Rhonita Marie Miller, her eight month old twins Titus and Tiana, 12-year-old Howard Jr, and 10-year-old Krystal all died in their car during the attack. The vehicle had also caught fire and exploded. 31-year-old Christina Langford Johnson was also found dead in her vehicle. Fortunately her seven-month-old baby Faith Langford survived the attack, and was found in her baby seat on the floor of the car. According to BBC news, she “got out of the vehicle with her hands raised to ask the attackers to stop shooting but was gunned down.”

The community members armed themselves after Devin warned them about the shooters. They decided to wait for the reinforcements when “realising they would be risking death, since there had been continual shooting for hours, all over the mountains near La Mora,” Ms. Miller said. 

The survivors ,which included the children with gun injuries, were transferred to get medical help and airlifted to the US city of Phoenix. President Donald Trump said he would offer support in combating the cartel violence in Mexico. The FBI has offered to help the Mexican authorities in investigation. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president, said Mexico would act with “independence and sovereignty” when finding the criminals behind the attack. 

Colonia LeBarn, is a community that was founded by a breakaway Mormon group in the first half of the 20th century when the churches started denouncing polygamy. The Mormon church openly rejected polygamy, which is the practice of having more than one spouse at a time, in 1890 which caused some people who wanted more than one spouse to break away. The Colonia LeBarn community included both Mormons and Catholics settlers. The members of the community are known to stand up against gang violence and cartels. There are about 3,000 members of the community, some of which practice polygamy. 

The community was targeted by cartels in the past, and have had casualties before. Erick LeBaron, was kidnapped for ransom back in 2009. To stop future kidnappings the community refused to pay for his release. Erick was released without the ransom being paid. Months later, his brother Benjamin was beaten to death and Benjamin’s brother-in-law was killed. The community then demanded to be allowed to create their own security force. According to the Mexican president, pressure in Mexico is rising to further ensure the safety of the people.