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US victims were shot in the point-blank range

Many of the nine women and children killed on a remote stretch of highway in northern Mexico Monday were shot at point-blank range – the victims of a targeted killing that Mexican authorities have refused to allow their American counterparts to investigate, according to high ranking law enforcement sources in Mexico and the US.

"They were taken out of their vehicles and shot," an American federal investigator told The Post. "It's kind of disturbing that the FBI doesn't have access to the scene of the crime, which is probably a catastrophe because the Mexicans have allowed families to remove the bodies. Any evidence that could have been gathered would probably be destroyed." [1

9659002] A Mexican federal prosecutor close to the investigation told The Post that the charges had "shot some of the victims in the point-blank range" and that local authorities are still gathering evidence in scene in the state of Sonora, about 70 miles from the Arizona border, where the massacre took place.

The revelations are in full conflict with official accounts released by the Mexican government, blaming the deaths of three mother and six children – including an 8-month-old twin – in cartel guns mistaking a Mormon SUV convoy of a dark SUV for a rival drug group.First Chief of Staff Hector Mendoza told a press conference that a Juarez Cartel faction, La Linea, thought their Los Salazar rivals – in the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chap or" Guzman – were encroaching. Mendoza said two criminal groups exploded the day before the massacre in both regions. Mendoza said the attackers still allowed some of the remaining children, indicating that "it was not a targeted attack."

But both sources say Mexican officials are covering the real targets of the attack.

"We & # 39; re all saying that the Mexican government does not just want to investigate anything related to the drug," the American federal source said, adding that officials in the state of Sonora has sought help from the FBI for the massacre case but has been broken down by federal prosecutors.

"They will go to any extreme to cover everything," a US source said. "It's completely ruined, and it's just going to get worse."

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On Saturday, an FBI spokesman offered this comment only when asked if it was blocked by Mexican authorities: "The FBI continues to engage with our U.S. government and partner in Mexican law. We offer assistance and are ready to assist in the end of this tragedy. ”

Some members of the victims' families are part of a tight-knit group of Mormon communities in neighboring states of Sonora and Chihuahua say they believe I am the official version of government events.

"They need to know [the hitmen] that it is women and children," Julian LeBaron said in an interview in Mexico's "El Universal." He told the newspaper that some of the eight children who survived the massacre say one of the mothers left his truck with his hands in the air when he was shot and killed. [1 9659002] Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29, was fatally shot. to the chest when he jumped out of his Chevy Suburban and waved at the shooters to try to stop them. Before leaving the vehicle, he placed his 7-month-old daughter Faith's car seat on the floor of the SUV, likely saving the child's life.

The brave mother was buried on Saturday, her plain pine casket surrounded by members of the Mormon community and relatives of the extended Le Baron family. His wife, Tyler Johnson, was seen holding a boy during a service in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.

  A relative reacts to the burial of Rhonita Miller and her sons Howard, Crystal, Titus, and Teana, who were killed by unknown assailants, in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico
A relatives reacted while Rhonita Miller and her sons Howard, Kristal, Tito, and Teana were buried by unknown assailants in LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico Reuters

The victims, twenty US-Mexico citizens, all linked to known LeBaron and Langford families in several small Mormon farming communities with a long history of violent clashes with local drug traffickers.

"This is a very high-risk zone for confrontations with cartels," said a Mexican source, adding that both the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels used remote roads to carry drugs to the border. Arizona. The S government has begun to place restrictions on polygamy. The community is fundamentalist but has no leader and is not affiliated with the Church of the Latter-day Saints in Utah. Many in the community still practice polygamy.

While it is unclear what could be provoked by last week's massacre in which three SUVs traveling in a convoy between Sonora and Chihauhua states were attacked by a hail of bullets and fueled by fire, prosperous peasants and ranchers in rugged, mountainous regions have long been the voice of drug opponents, and resisted attempts by criminal groups to exterminate them in the past.

In 2009, Julian LeBaron's older brother Benjamin. a local farmer and activist founder of a crime-fighting group called SOS Chihuahua in Colonia LeBaron, killed by sellers after leading protests in the kidnapping of their 10-year-old brother Eric , held by a $ 1 million ransom by local drug traffickers. Colonia LeBaron was founded in 1924.

The family refused to pay the ransom and eventually released Eric, but Benjamin and a neighbor – Luis Widmar – were killed when 20 heavily armed men raided the LeBaron home and shot both men. 19659027] "These are not separate incidents," said Julian LeBaron, in a 2010 opinion piece in a Dallas newspaper. "Across our country, countless people have lost their lives or their security in a similar way, while the politics of confusion and the volume of poor words appear to be developing more than reality."

The massacre came on the heels of other violent people. confrontation between traffickers in Mexico, which has recorded more than 32,000 homicides since December. Last year's total was 33,341 homicides, most of them related to drug violence, according to the Mexican Ministry of the Interior.

Last month, a select group of state police officers on a regular patrol in Culiacan, northern Mexico, captured one of El Chapo's Children. But when a fierce gun battle erupted around them, killing two people and wounding 21, security forces released Ovidio Guzman Lopez. Last week, 30-year-old officer Guzman Lopez, arrested and killed in a rain of more than 150 bullets in Culiacan.

  A woman holds a photo of anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, left, and her neighbor Luis Widmar, killed in 2009
A woman holds a photo of an anti-crime activist Benjamin LeBaron, left, and his neighbor Luis Widmar, murdered in 2009 ASSOCIATED PRESS

Since coming to power last year, the president's security strategy Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has to emphasize "not hugs not bullets" to combat drug-related violence in the country.

"It's sad, painful because the children died, but we want to solve the problem … by declaring war?" Lopez Obrador said last week in response to the Mormon massacre.

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