Kendra Miller, whose sister-in-law was among the nine LeBaron family members gunned down in Sonora state on Monday, claims her family was specifically targeted to wage a war between rival cartels
A relative of the Mormon family slaughtered in Mexico just days before her wedding has advocated for carrying guns because she says defenseless Mexicans can’t fight back against cartel gunmen.
Kendra Miller, whose sister-in-law was among the nine LeBaron family members gunned down in Sonora state on Monday, claims her family was specifically targeted to wage a war between rival cartels.
Three mothers and six children, aged between six months and 12 years, were killed in the cartel ambush after leaving their La Mora religious community, which is a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of the Mormon church.
Speaking from her home in La Mora, where she is due to get married next week, Miller told CNN that her family constantly face threats from the cartels.
Miller brought up the issue of gun control and urged Americans to fight against any bans on weapons.
‘I don’t know where you’re standing on the whole (idea of) trying to take away the guns in America right now, but I say for fight for those guns,’ she said.
‘These things are happening here in Mexico because people can’t protect themselves because by law they’re not allowed to own these guns.
‘So since the government isn’t doing their job of protection in the way that they should, these cartels can just wreak havoc and the people are left defenseless.
‘So I say hold onto your guns, people.’
Three mothers and six children, aged between six months and 12 years, were killed in the cartel ambush after leaving their La Mora religious community, which is a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of the Mormon church
Three mothers and six children, aged between six months and 12 years, were killed in the cartel ambush after leaving their La Mora religious community. Family members mourn on Tuesday at the site of the murders
She said the issue of safety doesn’t just effect her family and is part of a country-wide problem.
‘What’s happening here is the Mexican people are being oppressed. They’re being abused by these cartels, living in fear for their life,’ Miller said.
‘We can’t drive public roads safely. We’re being threatened that we can’t even take some of the public roads or else we’ll have bad things happen to us.
‘So many people are not protected the way that they should be.’
Miller said her family was distraught over the loss of lives and that they are now planning multiple funerals to be held on Thursday and Friday.
She added that Mexican authorities had offered guarded protection for relatives planning to attend the funerals.
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.
Eight children, some just infants, survived the ambush.
Miller said her sister-in-law Rhonita was driving to Phoenix to pick up her husband and was due to return after a few days in time for her wedding.
Dawna and Christina were driving to the neighboring state of Chihuahua to see relatives.
Devastated family members of the slain victims visited the scene of the grisly murders late on Tuesday and were pictured sobbing as they saw the burnt out and bullet riddled SUVs
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
Police found a baby car seat spattered with blood in a bullet-riddled SUV that was being driven by one of the mothers
Distraught members of the LeBaron family mourn while they watch the burned car where nine members of their family were killed and burned
‘They were all model people – good mothers committed to raising god children,’ Miller said of the slain mothers.
‘All of these women were incredible people.’
In the aftermath of the tragedy, heroic details emerged of the attack including how Christina put her daughter out of harms way.
Dawna’s quick-thinking 13-year-old son Devin was also credited with saving lives after he covered his injured siblings with branches to hide them before walking 13 miles to get help from relatives back at La Mora.
Relatives say he reached the community six hours later.
The suspect – only identified as a 30-year-old man named Leonardo – was found late Tuesday in the town of Agua Prieta, right at the border with the U.S. state of Arizona, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a vehicle
Family members alerted authorities before arming themselves with guns to go out searching for the injured children. It was during this search that baby Faith was found in the back of the vehicle.
What the children went through in the remote, mountainous area of Sonora state is nearly indescribable.
Miller said in an account of the shootings that Devin was one of the few uninjured young people and quickly took charge, eventually walking about back to La Mora for help.
‘After witnessing his mother and brothers being shot dead, Devin hid his six other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help,’ she said.
‘When he took too long to return, his 9-year-old sister left the remaining five to try again.’
That girl, Mckenzie Rayne Langford, walked for hours in the dark before she was found several hours after the other children were rescued. She was listed as missing for a while.
Altogether, the kids were on their own from about 1pm, when the ambush began, until about 7.30pm, when they were rescued.
In recordings of calls between the rescuers, they can be heard debating whether it was better to risk more lives, or wait for an hour or two until Mexican army troops arrived. It was an agonizing decision.
Authorities said the suspect, who is part of an El Chapo rival cartel, was also found in the possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as various large vehicles including a bullet-proofed SUV
What they saw when they found the children was terrifying.
Dawna’s eight-year-old son Cody Greyson Langford had been shot in the jaw and leg. Her 14-year-old daughter Kylie was shot in the foot and four-year-old Xander was shot in the back.
Brixon, a nine-month-old, suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. Her son Jake was found injured in the same spot but it’s not clear what his injuries are.
A suspected drug lord was arrested late Tuesday and is under investigation for the slaughter of the LeBaron family.
The suspect – only identified as a 30-year-old man named Leonardo – was found in the town of Agua Prieta, right at the border with the U.S. state of Arizona, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a vehicle.
Authorities said the suspect, who is part of an El Chapo rival cartel, was also found in the possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as various large vehicles including a bullet-proofed SUV.
The hostages are not believed to be related to the nine LeBaron family victims.
Devastated family members of the slain victims visited the scene of the grisly murders late on Tuesday and were pictured sobbing as they saw the burnt out and bullet riddled SUVs.
Authorities also released images of the children being airlifted with the assistance of the Mexican Air Force.
Dawna’s injured children are pictured above in hospital. Brothers Xander Boe, 4, and Cody Grayson, 7, suffered gunshot wounds in the attack
Dawna’s injured children are pictured above in hospital. Kylie Evelyn, 14, is pictured left in hospital with blood soaked jeans as she is comforted by a relative following thew shocking attack. Brixon Oliver, 10 months, feeds from a bottle (right) in hospital alongside his siblings
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Wednesday he was open to allowing U.S. law enforcement to help out with the massacre investigation as officials revealed that the weapons used in the attack were smuggled from the U.S.
Officials have said that the cartel gunmen may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang amid a vicious turf war.
They also blamed Juarez drug cartel and its armed wing, La Linea, for the attack on the LeBaron family.
La Linea’s gunmen had entered Sinaloa cartel territory and set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further up the road.
The Sinaloa cartel was previously headed by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. The area where the attack occurred is dominated by a Sinaloa cartel offshoot called the Salazar.
The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road into Chihuahua. It was this invasion force that the American mothers and their three vehicles drove into.
It was only after the first vehicle belonging to the family was shot up and set alight that 50 or 60 Sinaloa cartel gunmen showed up to see what had happened.
‘It is believed that the La Linea criminal organization acted on a threat from the Salazars to enter Chihuahua,’ General Homero Mendoza said. ‘It decided to send a cell to the Janos and Bavispe city limits… This cell was sent to stop any incursion of the Salazar criminal cell to Chihuahua.’
The military general also said that La Linea and the Salazars were involved in another shootout earlier on Monday that resulted in the death of a man.