DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (WAFB) - Mexico’s top security official says at least three women and six children were slaughtered by cartel gunmen. Relatives say the victims are U.S. citizens.
Lafe Langford Jr. is a relative of the victims. Langford has been living in Denham Springs with a dual-citizenship in Mexico. Several American Mormon families call the area in northern Mexico home. They’ve lived there peacefully for decades, growing pecans and farming cattle. But on Monday, Nov. 4, three SUVs packed with women and children were reportedly ambushed by a drug cartel. The vehicles were riddled with bullets. Three mothers and six children were killed, including 6-month-old twins and a 12-year-old boy.
“Three of my beloved uncles and cousins that I’ve grown up and spent my whole life with lost their wives and their children instantly,” Langford said.
Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said Tuesday, Nov. 5 the gunmen may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for rival gangs. Langford says he finds it hard to believe gunmen could’ve mistaken three vehicles full of women and children, but he doesn’t know why they would have been targeted.
“Howard Jr. was in the front seat of his mother’s vehicle and his bones were found kinda. The door was open. Some were on the floor and he was trying to get out,” Langford said.
Langford’s family has only lived in Denham Springs for two years. He grew up in Mexico and was hoping to head back soon, but he says he’s losing faith in the Mexican government and its ability to control the cartels.
Durazo says the Sinaloa cartel has an important presence in the area, but is fighting for the territory with rivals.
“First and foremost, we want to know who, we want to know why, we want to know where they’re from, and if we can get those questions answered, we want an ultimatum. We wanna’ know if we can live out the rest of our lives,” said Langford.
The victims were living in a community founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Anywhere something like this happens cannot be accepted and tolerated anywhere in this world. We need the people of the world to show strong support and we need our governments to show leadership,” Langford said.
The FBI has opened an investigation into the incident and President Donald Trump has pledged his support.