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Members of the Mexican National Guard provided protection to the LeBaron family in the state of Sonora when the secluded Mormon community prepared to hold the first funerals on Thursday

Convoys of vehicles with family members of the nine American women and children slaughtered by cartel artists have received a heavily armed military escort to attend the funerals of some victims.

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Members of the Mexican National Guard provided protection to the LeBaron family in the state of Sonora when the secluded Mormon community prepared to hold the first funerals on Thursday.

Dozens of high-riding pick-ups and SUVs, many from the US, arrived at night in the La Mora religious community in the state of Sonora, where the victims lived.

At least 1,000 visitors were expected in La Mora, a dozens of years old settlement founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Images showed convoys of vehicles making their way across unpaved roads as they found their way to the community while heavily armed officers guarded the route.

The funerals for Christina Langford Johnson, Dawna Langford and the two sons of Dawna, Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, are being held near their community on Thursday.

The remains of Rhonita Miller and her four children – twins of six months, Titus and Tiana, Krystal, 10 and Howard, 12 – are buried Friday in another village called Colonia LeBaron. Their bodies were reduced to ashes and bones when the car in which they were sitting was shot and burned.

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Members of the Mexican National Guard provided protection to the LeBaron family in the state of Sonora when the secluded Mormon community prepared to hold the first funerals on Thursday

Members of the Mexican National Guard provided protection to the LeBaron family in the state of Sonora when the secluded Mormon community prepared to hold the first funerals on Thursday

Family and friends of the victims arrived in the community earlier this week.

& # 39; We came prepared to sleep on the floor, in tents. Everything needed to support the families who died in this terrorist act & # 39 ;, said Alex LeBaron, a former congressman and cousin of one of the women.

Alex LeBaron, who was with the convoy, told Mexican radio that mourners from the US and from Mexico had come to bring food and mattresses for the trip.

The LeBaron family, who came to Mexico at the start of the 20th century, now claims to have more than 5,000 members.

Authorities and family members say the killings seemed to be the work of the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, fighting for control over lucrative drug routes that run through the sparsely populated mountainous areas to the US.

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The nine victims of the LeBaron family, consisting of three mothers and six children, were shot Monday morning while traveling in three SUVs from the Mormon community where they live.

Rhonita and her children drove to Phoenix to pick up her husband, while Christina and Dawna traveled to Chihuahua to visit relatives.

Dozens of high-riding pick-ups and SUVs, many from the US, arrived at night in the La Mora religious community in the state of Sonora, where the victims lived

Dozens of high-riding pick-ups and SUVs, many from the US, arrived at night in the La Mora religious community in the state of Sonora, where the victims lived

Dozens of high-riding pick-ups and SUVs, many from the US, arrived at night in the La Mora religious community in the state of Sonora, where the victims lived

Convoyed vehicles drove their way over unpaved roads as they walked towards the community while heavily armed officers guarded the route

Convoyed vehicles drove their way over unpaved roads as they walked towards the community while heavily armed officers guarded the route

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Convoyed vehicles drove their way over unpaved roads as they walked towards the community while heavily armed officers guarded the route

Framed by heavily armed Mexican authorities, family members of the LeBaron family mourn their way to the remote community on Wednesday

Framed by heavily armed Mexican authorities, family members of the LeBaron family mourn their way to the remote community on Wednesday

Framed by heavily armed Mexican authorities, family members of the LeBaron family mourn their way to the remote community on Wednesday

Family and friends of the victims arrived in the community earlier this week after the massacre of the nine victims

Family and friends of the victims arrived in the community earlier this week after the massacre of the nine victims

Family and friends of the victims arrived in the community earlier this week after the massacre of the nine victims

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Mexican officials say the family was the victim of a territorial dispute between an arm of the Sinaloa cartel of El Chapo and its rival Juarez cartel.

Authorities believe that the family has been used to lure one side to a firefight.

They specifically blamed the Juarez cartel and its La Linea armed wing for the attack on the LeBaron family.

The area in the state of Sonora where the family was murdered is dominated by foothills of the Sinaloa cartel, the Salazar.

Hours before the attack on the LeBaron family, La Linea sent gunmen to defend the state border after attacks in a nearby town carried out by Salazar.

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The shooters of La Linea had entered the cartel area of ​​Sinaloa and had set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further down the road.

Top Mexican general, Homero Mendoza, said it resulted in a shootout on Monday around 3:15 PM that ended with the death of a man.

The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road to Chihuahua, the general said. It was this invasion force that drove in the American mothers and their three vehicles later on Monday morning.

When the assassins struck, the three LeBaron families spread out at about 9.40 am along a 12-mile road along the border of the two states.

Rhonita Miller and four of her children - her six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, her 10-year-old daughter Krystal and the 12-year-old son Howard - were all killed. Two more mothers, Dawna Langford and Christina Langford Johnson, as well as the sons of Dawna, Trevor, 11 and Rogan, 3, were all also killed

Rhonita Miller and four of her children - her six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, her 10-year-old daughter Krystal and the 12-year-old son Howard - were all killed. Two more mothers, Dawna Langford and Christina Langford Johnson, as well as the sons of Dawna, Trevor, 11 and Rogan, 3, were all also killed

Rhonita Miller and four of her children – her six-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, her 10-year-old daughter Krystal and the 12-year-old son Howard – were all killed. Two more mothers, Dawna Langford and Christina Langford Johnson, as well as the sons of Dawna, Trevor, 11 and Rogan, 3, were all also killed

The nine victims of the LeBaron family, including three mothers and six children, were shot on Monday morning while traveling in three SUVs from the Mormon community where they live in the state of Sonora

The nine victims of the LeBaron family, including three mothers and six children, were shot on Monday morning while traveling in three SUVs from the Mormon community where they live in the state of Sonora

The nine victims of the LeBaron family, including three mothers and six children, were shot on Monday morning while traveling in three SUVs from the Mormon community where they live in the state of Sonora

Soldiers assigned to the National Guard of Mexico stand by a bullet-riddled vehicle of one of the mothers shot in the cartel ambush that killed nine

Soldiers assigned to the National Guard of Mexico stand by a bullet-riddled vehicle of one of the mothers shot in the cartel ambush that killed nine

Soldiers assigned to the National Guard of Mexico stand by a bullet-riddled vehicle of one of the mothers shot in the cartel ambush that killed nine

How a fierce cartel competition could have led to the Mormon massacre

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Authorities believe that a fierce rivalry between two Mexican drug cartels fighting for control is to blame for the massacre of nine Americans.

The nine victims of the LeBaron family, including three mothers and six children, were shot Monday morning while traveling in three SUVs from the Mormon community where they live in the state of Sonora.

Mexican officials say the family was the victim of a territorial dispute between an arm of the Sinaloa cartel of El Chapo and its rival Juarez cartel.

Authorities believe that the family has been used to lure one side to a firefight. They specifically blamed the Juarez cartel and its La Linea armed wing for the attack on the LeBaron family.

The area in the state of Sonora where the family was murdered is dominated by foothills of the Sinaloa cartel, the Salazar.

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Hours before the attack on the LeBaron family, La Linea sent gunmen to defend the state border after attacks in a nearby town carried out by Salazar.

The shooters of La Linea had entered the cartel area of ​​Sinaloa and had set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further down the road.

Top Mexican general, Homero Mendoza, said it resulted in a shootout on Monday around 3:15 PM that ended with the death of a man.

The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road to Chihuahua, the general said. It was this invasion force that drove in to the American mothers and their three vehicles later on Monday morning at about 9:40 am.

Officials had initially said that the cartel-armed men might have mistaken the large SUVs of the group for those of a rival gang. But relatives of the victims say that their family was deliberately the target and was used as bait to lure one cartel against another.

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The Sinaloa and Juarez cartels have been at odds for years on lucrative routes in the border region used to move cocaine, heroin and other narcotics to the US.

When bullets began to pummel the first car, a white Chevrolet Suburban, Christina Marie Langford Johnson stepped out with her arms waving to show that they were not gang members.

Christina was shot, but her seven-month-old baby, Faith, survived the attack after her mother seemed to have placed her car seat on the floor before she got out.

Gunfire also tore into a second white suburb that Dawna Langford and nine children carried, about a mile back. Dawna and two of her sons, Trevor, 11 and Rogan, 3, were killed.

Images of the vehicle showed more than a dozen bullet holes in the roof and the sides of the vehicle. Inside, blood was smeared over chairs and children's toys.

A third car, 11 miles behind, was shot and burst into flames, killing Rhonita Miller and her four children – her six-month-old twin, Titus and Tiana, her 10-year-old daughter Krystal and 12-year-old son Howard.

Officials had initially said that the cartel-armed men might have mistaken the large SUVs of the group for those of a rival gang.

But relatives of the victims say that their family was deliberately the target and was used as bait to lure one cartel against another.

& # 39; They shot us, burned our vehicles to send a smoke signal into the air & # 39 ;, said a family member who argued that the purpose of the gang was to get the Sinaloa shooters into battle.

It was only after the third vehicle was shot and set on fire that 50 or 60 Sinaloa cartel guns appeared to see what had happened.

Authorities and the family say that heavy firefights in the remote hilly landscape lasted for hours into the night after the attack.

The Sinaloa and Juarez cartels have been at odds for years on lucrative routes in the border region used to move cocaine, heroin and other narcotics to the US.

A heavily armed suspected cartel assassin was arrested Tuesday in a nearby town in a lorry carrying a Barrett 50 caliber rifle and other military weapons.

Criminal investigators initially said the suspect was under investigation for the massacre, but later said preliminary information indicated that he was not linked to the attack.

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guard a caravan of friends and relatives of the LeBaron family on Wednesday when they arrive at the place where their families were murdered

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guard a caravan of friends and relatives of the LeBaron family on Wednesday when they arrive at the place where their families were murdered

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guard a caravan of friends and relatives of the LeBaron family on Wednesday when they arrive at the place where their families were murdered

Mexican authorities helped guard the route that led to the place where the family was killed, so their relatives could visit and mourn Wednesday

Mexican authorities helped guard the route that led to the place where the family was killed, so their relatives could visit and mourn Wednesday

Mexican authorities helped guard the route that led to the place where the family was killed, so their relatives could visit and mourn Wednesday

Soldiers from the National Guard had to keep watch outside the homes of the victims on Wednesday to protect their families

Soldiers from the National Guard had to keep watch outside the homes of the victims on Wednesday to protect their families

Soldiers from the National Guard had to keep watch outside the homes of the victims on Wednesday to protect their families

Members of the National Guard are shown on Wednesday as standing guard at the houses of the LeBaron families

Members of the National Guard are shown on Wednesday as standing guard at the houses of the LeBaron families

Members of the National Guard are shown on Wednesday as standing guard at the houses of the LeBaron families

The moment they were attacked, the mothers rode in separate vehicles with their children from the La Mora religious community where they live. It is a decade-old settlement in the state of Sonora, founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Eight children, some only babies, survived the ambush.

The surviving children not only escaped the gunmen of the drug cartel who murdered their mother, but managed to hide in the brush for hours until help arrived.

The five injured children were seriously injured so that Mexican authorities flew them to the border with a military helicopter to receive hospital care in the United States.

Three other children who are not injured take care of family members in La Mora.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, gripping and heroic details of the attack emerged, including how Dawna & # 39; s fast-thinking 13-year-old son Devin covered his wounded siblings to hide them before he walked 13 miles to get help from family members back in La Mora.

Relatives say he reached the community six hours later. Family members warned the authorities before arming themselves with weapons to search for the injured children.

Christina is also credited with saving the lives of her children after putting her seven-month-old baby Faith on the floor of her suburbs and stepping out of the vehicle, waving her arms to show the shooters that she was no threat.

She may have been removed from the vehicle to divert their attention because her bullet-ridden body was found about 15 meters away from the SUV.

The baby was injured and still found in her car seat in the back seat of the SUV when family members arrived on the scene hours later. Since then she has been reunited with her father Tyler Johnson.

What the children have experienced in the remote, mountainous area of ​​the state of Sonora is almost indescribable.

Kendra Miller, a family member, said in a shooting report that Devin Langford, 13, was one of the few non-injured young people and quickly took the lead and eventually returned to La Mora for help.

"Seeing his mother and brothers shot, Devin hid his six other brothers and sisters in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help," the report said.

& # 39; When it took too long to return, his 9-year-old sister left the remaining five to try again. & # 39;

That girl, Mckenzie Rayne Langford, walked for hours in the dark before being found several hours after the other kids were saved. She was reported missing for a while.

All in all, the children were alone from about 1 p.m. when the ambush began, until about 7.30 p.m. when they were rescued.

Relatives from La Mora tried to reach them for that, but were shot back by gunfire. The area is the site of a cartel grass war.

In recordings of calls between rescuers, they can hear debating whether it was better to risk more lives, or to wait an hour or two for the Mexican army troops to arrive. It was a painful decision.

What they saw when they found the kids was frightening.

Dawna's eight-year-old son, Cody Greyson Langford, was 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 wounded in the same place, but it is not clear what his injuries are.

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