Mormons mull leaving Mexico after massacre kills 9

Mexico City, Nov 9 (IANS) The massacre of nine Mormons in an ambush earlier this week was just the latest in a series of tragedies to hit the community in the Mexican state of Sonora, which has forced some members to consider seeking shelter in the US as they faced growing threats from organised crime.
Violence has been a constant threat for the community and before the horrific attack on Monday, they had already lost two other people who went out to get supplies and never returned, former mayor of La Morita of Bavispe Adam Langford told Efe news on Friday.
“Their car was stolen, they were killed, they went missing, they were robbed of 80,000 pesos ($4,188) meant for buying petrol. The crime remained unpunished,” Langford said.
In Monday’s ambush, three women and six children were killed and five others injured in a shooting spree by hitmen allegedly linked to rival gangs.
After the massacre, many Mormon families have said that they no longer feel safe in Mexico, including some residents in La Morita, who have decided to move to Europe or the US.
Another sizable group of Mormons was thinking of permanently leaving their current territory in Mexico, situated between the states of Chihuahua and Sonora.
“We believe we are individually responsible for ensuring our freedom, as we live surrounded by armed persons, with latest American rifles, while we are not even allowed to carry anything defend ourselves,” said Julian LeBaron, a resident.
Bavispe residents warned that an exodus of Mormons from the communities of La Morita, Le Baron and Galeana would affect all people in the region as they enjoyed good relations with the neighbours, generating employment and boosting the economy.
In an attempt to counter the locals’ perception of a climate of impunity, the government of Sonora has urged the Attorney General’s office to formally seek the help of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sonora Governor Claudia Arellano said she had accepted help from US authorities after meeting US Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
Although Mexican authorities have maintained that the massacre was a case of mistaken identity by one of the criminal groups fighting with each other for control of the region, Adrian LeBaron, a family member of the victims, alleged that the killings were meant to “leave a message”.
Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said an investigating team had been formed to ensure justice and it was studying “all hypotheses”.
“Nothing has been ruled out, they are working and collecting information,” he said, adding that a “special team” had been formed to take charge of the probe.
–IANS
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