Funerals Begin for Americans Killed in Mexico Cartel Ambush

Members of the Lebaron family watch the burned car where part of the nine murdered members of the family were killed and burned during an gunmen ambush on Bavispe Sonora mountains Mexico

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Dozens of high-riding pickups and SUVS, many with US license plates from as far away as North Dakota, arrived in La Mora for the funeral, traveling over the dirt road where the attack occurred.

They came almost a week after an attack Monday in which nine women and children were killed by what authorities said were people from drug cartels.

When the killers struck, the families were spread out along a 12-mile (20 km) stretch of road near the border of the two states, according to Mexican authorities and the families. Their trucks were loaded with boxes, bicycles, spare tires and bags, all their belongings packed as they left the communities in Mexico that their families have called home since the 1950s, the newspaper reported.

"It was not an attack on us, but there is confusion - someone is wanting to send a message and they used our family", said Adrian LeBaron, father of one of the murdered women and a leader of this Mormon community.

Gathered under a large white tent in Rancho La Mora, a hamlet of neatly kept ranch-style houses and immaculately groomed pines, relatives sobbed, clutched each other in grief and struggled to find words for the magnitude of the family's loss.

But La Mora, a hamlet of about 300 people where residents raise cattle and cultivate pomegranates and other crops "will be forever changed" following the killings Monday as the women travelled with their children to visit relatives, a tearful David Langford told mourners at the funeral for his wife, Dawna Ray Langford, and their 11-year-old and 2-year-old sons.

On Monday morning, a group of three mothers and their 14 children set off in three cars from the La Mora ranch, to go to another Mormon settlement, Colonia LeBaron, in neighbouring Chihuahua state.

Another wake was held nearby for the other victims: Dawna Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, two; and Christina Langford, 31. One girl suffered gunshot wounds to her back and foot. He then walked for six hours back to La Mora, relative Kendra Lee Miller wrote on Facebook. She was listed as missing for a while.

Having to move so suddenly feels like something he's seen in the movies, but he never thought would happen to his family, Langford said. "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.

Ms Langford Johnson reportedly got out of the vehicle with her hands raised to ask the attackers to stop shooting but was gunned down, witnesses said. "It was frantic", she said by phone from Tucson, where she is standing watch at a hospital that is treating five children wounded in the attack. Steven Langford, who was mayor from 2015-2018, predicted that as many as half could leave, turning it into a "ghost town".

Langford, too, lived in the La Mora village, but she was buried in LeBaron, which acquaintances said was her husband's hometown.

The population of La Mora had dwindled in recent years, with some keeping homes but only visiting a few times a year, Langford-Staddon said.

Kenneth Miller, a relative of several of the victims, all of whom were dual US-Mexican citizens, said the family hoped their plight would draw attention to the thousands of victims whose cases go unsolved as violence reaches record levels in Mexico.

"They had to have known that it was women and children", he said. "And to have to up and leave from one day to the next and leave all that behind, there's definitely a lot of sad people here".

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