American family shot at close range

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Many of the nine women and children killed on a remote stretch of highway in northern Mexico on Monday were hit at close range – victims of a targeted murder that the Mexican authorities refuse to allow their American counterparts to investigate, according to the high-ranking Mexican and Sources of US forces of the order.

"They were taken out of their cars and shot," an American federal investigator said The Post. "It is a bit disturbing that the FBI did not have access to the crime scene, which is probably already a disaster because the Mexicans allowed the families to remove the bodies. Any evidence that could have been collected is probably destroyed. "

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The Mexican federal official close to the investigation said this The Post that the sicarios "shot some of the victims at close range" and that the local authorities were still gathering evidence on the scene in the state of Sonora, about 70 miles from the Arizona border, where the massacre took place.

The revelations are completely at odds with the official reports released by the Mexican government, which blamed the death of three mothers and six young children – including 8-month-old twins – on the gunmen who had mistaken the convoy of the dark SUV mormons for a rival drug The group of.

The chief of staff of the army, Hector Mendoza, said at a press conference that a faction of the Juarez cartel, La Linea, thought that their rivals of Los Salazar – in the Sinaloa cartel, once led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman – they were invading. Mendoza said the two criminal groups clashed the day before the massacre in the same region. Mendoza said the attackers even allowed some of the surviving children to go, indicating that "it was not a targeted attack".

But both sources said Mexican officials were hiding the real targets of the savage attack.

"We have always said that the Mexican government has no intention of investigating anything related to drug trafficking," the US federal source said, adding that officials from the state of Sonora sought help from the FBI for the probe. massacre but were countered by Mexican federal officials.

"They will go to any extreme to cover everything," the American source said. "It is completely corrupt and will only get worse".

On Saturday, a spokesman for the FBI only offered this comment when asked if he had been hindered by the Mexican authorities: "The FBI continues to engage with our US government and partners in the # 39 forces ; Mexican order. We have offered assistance and we are ready to assist in the wake of this tragedy ".

Some members of the families of the victims who were part of a close-knit group of Mormon communities in the neighboring states of Sonora and Chihuahua said they did not believe the official version of government events.

"They [the assassins] had to know that they were women and children," said Julian LeBaron in an interview with "El Universal" in Mexico. He told the newspaper that some of the eight children who survived the massacre said that one of the mothers left her truck with her hands up when she was hit and killed.

Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, was fatally shot in the chest when she jumped out of her Chevy Suburban and greeted the shooters to try to stop them. Before leaving the vehicle, he placed his daughter Faith's 7-month car seat on the floor of the SUV, probably saving the child's life.

The brave mother was buried on Saturday, with her simple pine coffin surrounded by members of the Mormon communities and relatives of the extended Le Baron family. Her husband, Tyler Johnson, was seen holding a boy in his service at LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.

The victims, double citizens of the United States and Mexico, all had ties to the important families of LeBaron and Langford in several small Mormon farming communities that have a long history of violent clashes with local drug traffickers.

"This is a high risk area for clashes with cartels," the Mexican source said, adding that both Sinaloa and Juarez carts use the remote roads to transport drugs to the Arizona border.

Mormons began to settle in the region after 1890 when the US government began to restrict polygamy. The community is fundamentalist but has no leader and is not affiliated with the Church of Latter-day Saints in Utah. Many in the community still practice polygamy.

Although it is not yet clear what may have caused the massacre last week in which three SUVs traveling in a convoy between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua were attacked by a hail of bullets and engulfed in flames, the prosperous Mormon peasants and breeders in the mountainous and rugged region have long been vocal opponents of drug traffickers and have resisted attempts by criminal groups to extort them in the past.

In 2009, the elder brother of Julian LeBaron, Benjamin, a local farmer and founder of activists of a crime-fighting group called SOS Chihuahua in Colonia LeBaron, was killed by traffickers after leading protests for the kidnapping of their brother by 10 years, Eric, who was held for $ 1 million in ransom by local drug dealers. Colonia LeBaron was founded in 1924.

The family refused to pay the ransom and eventually Eric was released, but Benjain and a neighbor – Luis Widmar – were killed when 20 heavily armed men invaded LeBaron's home and killed both.

"These are not isolated incidents," said Julian LeBaron, in a 2010 article in a Dallas newspaper. "Throughout our nation, countless people have lost their lives or security in a similar way, while the policy of confusion and volumes of magic words seem to have more influence than reality."

The massacre came in the wake of other violent clashes between traffickers in Mexico, which has already registered over 32,000 murders since December. Last year's total was 33,341 murders, most of them related to violence against drugs, according to the Mexican Ministry of the Interior.

Last month, an elite group of state police officers on a routine patrol in Culiacan, northern Mexico, captured one of El Chapo's sons. But when a violent firefight broke out around them, killing two people and wounding 21, security forces released Ovid Guzman Lopez. Last week, the 30-year-old official who arrested Guzman Lopez was ambushed and killed in a hail of over 150 bullets in Culiacan.

Since coming to power last year, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's security strategy has been to emphasize "non-bullet hugs" to combat drug-related violence in the country.

"It was regrettable, painful because the children died, but we want to solve the problem … declaring war?", Lopez Obrador said last week in response to the Mormon massacre.

This article originally appeared on New York Post and has been republished here with permission

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