Mexico's security strategy called into question after Mormon killings and other violence

Members of the Lebaron family look at the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an ambush in Bavispe Sonora mountains Mexico

The families came almost a week after the attack Monday in which nine women and children were killed by what authorities said were hit men from drug cartels. Benjamin LeBaron, an anti-crime activist who founded neighbourhood patrols against cartels, was killed in 2009.

"To be honest with you, my boy's a hero simply because he gave his life for his brothers and sisters", he said.

The families had lived in the hamlets of La Mora and Colonia LeBaron, two communities in northern Mexico's Sonora state that were left grieving after the massacre that left six women and three children dead. A convoy carrying women and children - dual US-Mexican citizens - ambushed and sprayed with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

One of the family's vehicles, a Chevrolet Tahoe, was found burned with the charred bodies of Rhonita Maria Miller, 30, Howard Jacob Miller Jr, 12, Krystal Bellaine Miller, 10, Titus Alvin Miller, 10, and 8-month-old twins Titus Alvin Miller and Tiana Gricel Miller, authorities said.

"We here in the mountains, we have no access to authorities, or very, very little", David Langford said.

Cowering in the brush, one boy hid the other children and then walked back to La Mora to get help.

Christina Langford Johnson jumped out of her vehicle and waved her hands to show she was no threat to the attackers and was shot twice in the heart, community members say. A mother gunned down as she begged the children be spared.

No official explanation has been given for the killings, though the Mexican government said the victims may have been caught in the crossfire of a bloody turf war between an arm of the Sinaloa Cartel and its rival, the Juarez Cartel. "These sicarios, why are they doing it?" she said, using a term for "hitmen".

She was found alive in a bullet-ridden vehicle on a dirt road in Mexico's northern state of Sonora following the brutal gang attack on Monday.

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Relatives embrace during the funeral service of Dawna Ray Langford and her sons Trevor, Rogan, who were killed by unknown assailants, to be buried at the cemetery in La Mora, Sonora, Mexico November 7, 2019.

Until answers emerge as to why the women and children were killed, Joe Darger said his daughter who lives in Utah but maintains a second home in La Mora won't be spending time again in a place that had been part of her family's life.

She said Mexico needed to overcome pride and accept outside help from a neighboring country or global coalition, like the United Nations, to stamp out the cartels. "Whatever is needed to support the families who died in this terrorist act", said Alex LeBaron, a former Mexican congressman and cousin of one of the women, Rhonita Miller.

Although it's not yet clear what might have provoked last week's massacre in which three SUVs traveling in a convoy between Sonora and Chihauhua states were attacked by a hail of bullets and engulfed in flames, the prosperous Mormon farmers and ranchers in the rugged, mountainous region have always been vocal opponents of drug traffickers, and have resisted attempts by the criminal groups to extort them in the past.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that it was time for Mexico and the United States to "wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth".

But both sources said Mexican officials were covering up the savage attack's true targets.

"I mean, what they went through, what they experienced, I don't - we don't have the capacity just to imagine what these children went through".

"The bit of income that we have from them helps, but without it, only God knows", said Enriquez, whose husband works for the Mormon families tending livestock and cultivating pomegranates and chili peppers.

"I love Mexico, and this happened in Mexico, and these children are Mexican", he said. Eight children, some mere infants, survived the ambush.

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