A suspected drug lord has been arrested and is being investigated for the slaughter of nine Americans, including three mothers and six children, after the Mormon family in northern Mexico had been ambushed by cartel guns.
The suspect was found at the end of Tuesday in the city of Agua Prieta, directly on the border with the US state of Arizona, and held two hostages who were pinched and tied in a vehicle, the Agency for Criminal Investigation said.
Authorities said the suspect, whose name or gender was not released, was also found in possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as several large vehicles, including a bulletproof SUV.
The hostages are not believed to be related to the nine victims of the LeBaron family who were killed on Monday while traveling in a convoy of three SUVs on an unpaved road in the state of Sonora.
Investigators are still trying to determine whether the suspect is connected to the brutal murders.
At least three American mothers and six children from a Mormon community in northern Mexico were massacred during an attack on armed drug cartel shooters. Maria Rhonita Miller was murdered together with her six month old twins, Titus and Tiana (left and right), her 10 year old daughter Krystal (left) and the 12 year old son Howard (middle)
Christina Langford Johnson (left) and Dawna Ray Langford (right) were also killed while traveling in two separate SUV's. Christina saved the life of her seven-month-old baby Faith by throwing the child on the floor of their SUV. Two of Dawna & # 39; s children, Trevor, 11 and Rogan, 3, were killed in the attack
Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and two of her children, Trevor, 11, (right with his mother) and Rogan, 3, (left) also died in the attack
Officials have said that the cartel cannons may have mistaken the large SUVs of the group for those of a rival gang amidst a vicious grass war.
The mothers rode in separate vehicles with their children from the religious community of La Mora where they live, a decades-old settlement in the state of Sonora, founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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.
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.
Dawna Devin's 13-year-old son covered his wounded siblings with branches to hide them before he walked 13 miles to get help from family members back to 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.
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. Sonora's state officials said they were & # 39; stable & # 39; were at the time of transfer.
Three other children who are not injured take care of family members in La Mora.
The five children who were injured when Mexican drug cartel armed men ambushed them and slaughtered nine of their Mormon relatives were transferred to US hospitals after the eerie attack.
Authorities have also released images of the children flown in with the help of the Mexican Air Force.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, poignant details emerged about the attack, including how a fast-thinking Christina managed to save the lives of her children.
Christina put her seven-month-old baby Faith on the floor of her Suburban and stepped 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;
Dawna & # 39; s injured children are pictured above in the hospital. The brothers Xander Boe (4) and Cody Grayson (7) suffered gunshot wounds during the attack
Dawna & # 39; s injured children are pictured above in the hospital. Kylie Evelyn, 14, is pictured left in the hospital with blood-soaked jeans as she is comforted by a family member after the shocking attack. Brixon Oliver, 10 months old, feeds from a bottle (right) in the hospital next to his brothers and sisters
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.
The killers apparently were members of the Juarez drug cartel and its armed wing, La Linea – & # 39; The Line & # 39; – whose shooters had entered the Sinaloa cartel area and set up an armed outpost on a hilltop and an ambush further down the road.
The Juarez cartel apparently wanted to send a message that it controlled the road to Chihuahua. It was this invasion force that drove the American mothers and their three vehicles.
It was only after the first vehicle was shot and set on fire that 50 or 60 Sinaloa cartel guns appeared to see what had happened.
Chihuahua state police officers man checkpoint in Janos after drug cartel armed men ambushed three SUVs over a dirt road, killing six children and three women
But it is not the cruelty of the cartel, but the courage, innocence and sacrifice of the victims who want to withhold relatives.
Austin Cloes, a family member of the victims, said from his home in Salt Lake City that they were good people who loved their children and enjoyed their peaceful life based on a successful pecan company.
& # 39; Things like this shouldn't go unnoticed & # 39 ;, said Cloes, who works with high-risk young people and basketball coaches in high school.
& # 39; And this kind of people should not be buried alone without their names being mentioned there. These are wonderful people. & # 39;
The victims lived in the state of Sonora, about 120 miles south of Douglas, Arizona, in the hamlet of La Mora, founded decades ago by a branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Many residents of La Mora call themselves Mormons, but are not affiliated with any church.
A number of such American farming communities are grouped around the state border of Chihuahua-Sonora. Many members were born in Mexico and have dual nationality. Although some of the splinter groups were once polygamous, many are no longer.
All the victims apparently belonged to the extended LeBaron family in Chihuahua, whose members have been dealing with drug traffickers over the years.
Benjamin LeBaron, an anti-crime activist who set up neighborhood patrols against cartels, was murdered in 2009.
The victims had left their home in three SUVs.
Family members say that Rhonita and her children drove to Phoenix, Arizona to pick up her husband at the airport after his work trip.
Christina and Dawna each traveled with their own children and were on their way to see relatives in the state of Chihuahua for a wedding scheduled for Friday, family members told DailyMail.com.
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