The massacre of nine women and children in northern Mexico could test breakaway Mormon families’ attachment to communities that for decades have been a haven for a way of life shunned by the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Monday’s dirt road ambush of three families of Mormon origin was the deadliest attack on U.S. citizens in Mexico in recent memory and put the close-knit religious communities in the uncomfortable spotlight of the country’s raging drug war.
The victims - three women and six children - came from prominent local families, including the LeBarons and Langfords, dual citizens of both Mexico and the United States, like most residents of the handful of Mormon settlements in the area that date back decades.
Nestled in the fertile valleys of the Sierra Madre mountains just a few hours drive south from the U.S. border, the oldest communities stem from the late 1800s, when upheaval over polygamy in the Utah-based church led to their founding.
Grieving relatives fondly remembered happy childhoods marked by thriving farms and big families.
“We had full confidence, and full trust, completely fearless, we’d lived there for 70 to 80 years in absolute peace and prosperity,” said Lafe Langford, 33, a friend and relative of the victims.
He described the farms, carpenter shops and sawmills of La Mora, the village where the victims lived, as a “paradise for children,” with 350 full-time residents, and another 1,000 who, like him, shuttle between the United States and Mexico.