Christina Langford Johnson (left) and Maria Rhonita LeBaron were among the US citizens killed by the cartel.
Christina Langford Johnson (left) and Maria Rhonita LeBaron were among the US citizens killed by the cartel.

Nine women and kids shot dead in horror bloodbath

At least three women and six children, including twin six-month-old babies, have been killed by drug cartel gunmen in northern Mexico.

The victims, believed to be members of a large Mormon family with dual US-Mexico citizenship, were ambushed by gunman while driving to a wedding in the Mexican border state of Sonora - near where they worship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Six other children were found alive. One child had a bullet wound and one child was still missing, officials said.

Mexico's security secretary Alfonso Durazo said the gunmen may have mistaken the group's convoy of large SUVs for a rival gang.

Christina Langford Johnson, 31, Rhonita LeBaron, 33, and Dawna Langford, 43, were the three mums killed in the attack, according to The Sun.

Ms LeBaron had broken down in her SUV when gunmen opened fire, torching the vehicle and causing the petrol tank to explode.

She was found dead inside the bullet-ridden car along with her six-month-old babies, Titus and Tiana.

Two of her other children, Krystal, 10, and Howard, 12, were also reportedly killed in the attack.

Twelve kilometres ahead, Ms Langford Johnson, Ms Langford, and two of her children, 11-year-old Trevor and three-year-old Rogan, were also killed in other SUVs.

Ms Langford's seven other children were shot but survived, it's claimed.

Christina Langford Johnson (left) and Maria Rhonita LeBaron were among the US citizens killed by the cartel.
Christina Langford Johnson (left) and Maria Rhonita LeBaron were among the US citizens killed by the cartel.

Family member Alex LeBaron gave a horrific account of their deaths.

"Women and children were massacred, burned alive," Mr LeBaron said.

"Mothers were screaming for the fire to stop."

Ms Langford Johnson's seven-month-old baby Faith w

as found alive on the floor in the back of her Chevrolet Suburban.

Relatives say the infant was rescued after spending hours inside the car with her mum's body.

A video posted on social media showed the charred and smoking remains of a vehicle riddled with bullet holes that was apparently carrying the victims when the attack happened.

"This is for the record," says a male voice in an American accent, off camera, choking with emotion.

"Nita and four of my grandchildren are burnt and shot up."

Leah Staddon, who grew up in the same Mormon community, said her brother found one of the bullet-ridden cars with charred bodies inside.

"It's devastating," Ms Staddon said. "It's incomprehensible, the evil. I don't understand how someone could do that."

THREE CARS

In each of the three cars that were attacked, a mother had been driving children to see family.

"They were driving together for safety reasons," said Kendra Lee Miller, whose sister-in-law Rhonita Maria Miller was killed in the attack.

CNN reports Rhonita Miller was driving with some of her seven children from La Mora, Mexico to Arizona in order to pick up her husband Howard - who was in the US for work.

They were planning to attend Kendra's wedding in La Mora the following week.

In another car, 43-year-old mother Dawna Ray Langford was driving. She had been planning to visit her family in Chihuahua.

Christina Marie Langford Johnson had been driving the third car.

Kendra said Christina had been "going to meet her husband and the rest of her children because they were all moving up to North Dakota".

Rhonita's vehicle had broken down with a flat tyre while en route, and Rhonita and her children left the vehicle and travelled back to La Mora with two other women to collect another car.

They then collected another family car and continued with the other two vehicles.

Kendra's brother Andre was reportedly on a mountain road near Le Mora when he witnessed a fire in the distance - unknown to him it was where the three cars had been attacked.

"My brother was fixing Rhonita's broken-down vehicle, saw a fire, didn't think anything of it," Kendra said.

"Then (he) saw the explosion, went to check it out, saw it was my mother's vehicle, full of bullet holes, completely ablaze.

"My dad, Andre and a couple of uncles and relatives went to check up on the vehicle. All they found was charred remains, ash and bones.

"There were remains inside and outside of the vehicle."

TRUMP WANTS WAR ON CARTELS

US President Donald Trump described the victims as "great American people" and urged Mexico to wage war on drug cartels.

"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," he tweeted.

"If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing and able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively.

"The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!"

 

But in a press conference on Tuesday, Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said war was not an option.

"The worst thing you can have is war … we declared war, and it didn't work … that is not an option," he said.

Mr Durazo said police, soldiers and the National Guard were searching the rural, mountainous area on the Sonora-Chihuahua border for the missing child.

'INHUMANE AND BARBARIC ACTS'

A relative, Lafe Langford Junior, confirmed the deaths on Facebook on Monday.

"We need this to be shared and the whole world to witness the atrocious inhumane and barbaric acts that were committed against us today," he wrote.

The families lived in La Mora, about 110 kilometres south of Douglas, Arizona.

Authorities in Sonora state and the US Embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It's not the first time that members of the breakaway church have been attacked in northern Mexico, where their forebears settled - often in Chihuahua state - decades ago.

In 2009, Benjamin LeBaron, an anti-crime activist who was related to those killed in Monday's attack, was murdered in 2009 in neighbouring Chihuahua state.


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