How Mexico’s cartel wars shattered Americans’ wary peace

LA MORA, Mexico-For decades, this small American Mormon village in the mountains of northwestern Mexico co-existed peacefully with the most powerful drug cartel in the region.

Americans lowered the windows at the checkpoint in the cartel. They nodded to Sicarios at local horse racing and shared pomegranates during harvest. When cartel car repairs were needed, La Mora's American mechanic repaired the car at the same rate that he charged his neighbors.

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By this week, living as an American in the most illegal areas of Mexico meant maintaining an uneasy ceasefire with human traffickers. "By default we won't bother unless we bother." His great-grandfather was one of the first American Mormons to move to Mexico in 1880.

And it became clear that Monday, Monday, there would be no agreement on the violence in Mexico and the agreement of La Mora. That morning, the gunman stopped three vehicles on a dirt road outside the city, killing three women and six children, shooting babies at close range, begging the lives of the children, and targeting their mothers.

The Mexican government suggested that the car was accidentally attacked. But here in La Mora, the explanation is meaningless and upset the inhabitants.

They say that the family was deliberately targeted by the cartel of the neighboring country Chihuahua, perhaps for proximity with the community to the local cartel in Sonora where La Mora is located. The slaughter takes place in the turbulent turf war between the cartels, where residents have been strained for over a year.

Amber Langford, La Mora's midwife, said, “We saw things more strained, but thought of the same things we always did. "They will stop us at the checkpoint and ask what we have. We will say honey or potatoes, and they will send us."

La Mora was founded in the 1950s as part of the fundamentalist Mormon movement that broke up from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For decades, they were largely cut off in the United States and other parts of Mexico without electricity or running water. The children welded their bikes with metal rods.

Residents developed pecan farms and ranches, brought money from seasonal work across the border, and in the 1990s the community flourished. They built a house designed for the American suburbs.

When American friends asked about safety, many explained that they had hardly locked their doors. They allowed the children to roam freely in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. They had two schools-one for Spanish and one for English-and the fluent students in both languages ​​shared their time equally.

But in a short moment, La Mora residents recognized the strategic importance of the community. It fell directly off the unpaved dirt road, leading to the US border.

In 2009, two men in the Chihuahua, although associated with the La Mora family, were kidnapped and killed by the state's largest drug cartel. It was a shock to imply that the double citizenship of the community was not enough to stop the violence of members.

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But here many believed that their state had little to do with cartel. There were few police officers in the area, but the cartel, also called Sonora Cartel, felt that it served as a kind of shadow police officer.

Adam Langford, the mayor of the city, said, "The state did not provide law and order, but the cartel did it."

Sometimes, the men at the checkpoint will stop them and apologize.

Kenneth Miller says, “& # 39; Sorry. We are defending our territory.

In recent months there have been signs that peace is worsening. The local cartel first asked the La Mora family to stop buying fuel in Chihuahua and fund their rival cartel. Unfamiliar people managed a common checkpoint. They sometimes looked like jumpers pointing guns at someone passing by. Rumors have spread over the intense turf war between criminal groups.

"People have started asking each other. Is it time to return to America?" Amber Langford said. The population has fallen to about 100.

In many parts of Mexico, Cartel's strengths and the ability to control the government's influence are exhibited every day.

The murders increased to 33,341 people last year. Another 40,000 are missing.

Cartel attacks are particularly blatant. In August, 27 people died at Veracruz bar when the doors were locked and the bar was lowered. Last month, 14 police officers died in an ambush of Mikko Akan. Also last month, in the city of Culiacan, Sinaloa cartel overwhelmed the government security forces and forced the release of Ovidio Guzmán López, one of America's most famous drug traffickers.

In response, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrada resisted demands to strengthen security policies. Instead, he is trying to provide a job to attract people from the cartel. He handed millions of scholarships to take the children to school.

"We won't change strategy," Thursday said. "We will continue to address the causes of anxiety and violence."

Residents of La Mora took self-precautions. They began a convoy trip as they moved between Sonora and Chihuahua. They decided it was time to get a legitimate firearm.

When three women and their children left the village on Monday, Rhonita Miller paused before leaving. She told her mother-in-law Loretta Miller: "I have a bad feeling about this. Maybe I should not go."

Less than an hour later, Rhonita Miller was murdered with four children. When the villagers found her car, it caught fire.

Other victims were later discovered. The two surviving children walked through the wilderness for hours after their escape. One of them told me that the gunman shot him when he met the brush.

In a few hours, the massacre shocked through Mexico and the United States, reclaiming questions about its failure to secure territory and urging President Donald Trump to abandon US firepower.

Residents of La Mora began to prepare funerals. They made a wooden coffin. Amber Langford, the midwife who gave birth to the children who died, now embalmed the body.

On Thursday, hundreds of people from northern Mexico and the United States arrived in the family's backyard for the funerals of 43-year-old Dawna Langford and 11-year-old Trevor (11) and Rogan (2). Mexican troops stood near the entrance.

As the family talked about their loss, they cried remembering how Dawna heard the story, how Trevor ate the waffles, and how Rogan seemed not to laugh.

Dawna's son, Ryan Langford, said in tears in his reasoning.

As the community grieved, the members learned how their trials revived the debate on how to end the bloodshed in Mexico.

His daughter-in-law, Kenneth Miller, said, "I don't want to come here to help mexico and come here to avenge my family."

Now a quiet village was flooded with Mexican security personnel. Troops will inevitably leave in the coming weeks. Relief from violence in civil war between cartels is only temporary.

Adam Langford said, "How does the question all of us end here?"

Mary Beth Sheridan of the Washington Post in Mexico City contributed to this report.


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