It's almost night and the smell of roast permeates the air with brutal force. Submit fragrances, sparkles of wild perfumes. A while ago, the La Mora ranch (Chihuahua, northern Mexico) smelled like quince and ripe pomegranate. To dust and mountain. But now it's just meat. On a plot of the main street, a group of men roast dozens of chicken and beef fillets at a speed of vertigo. Everything is big here, the vans, the roasts, the cohabitation, the people's hands.
At about 6:00 p.m., a van goes up the driveway. They come from Bacerac, a town 45 minutes from the ranch, on the route to Hermosillo. From the co-pilot's seat, an ungainly boy descends, tall and thick as the trunk of a ceiba tree. Denim pants, light blue t-shirt and cap. He shouts down in English, cursing prosecutors, who have had hours taking his statement and made him sign dozens of sheets before leaving. His name is Andre Miller and he was the first neighbor of La Mora to realize that something was wrong. One of the attacks happened a few hundred meters from where he was. Rhonita and her four children were killed literally before their eyes. Later, two other women died, Christina Langford Johnson and Dawna Ray Langford, and two more children from the LeBarón family, a great Mormon clan that lives in Chihuahua.
On Monday, Andre went to look for Rhonita's car. He had broken down when they had just taken the road to Chihuahua. Rhonita had changed trucks and was already heading the route with her children. While trying to fix the other, Andre heard the car explosion, Rhonita's car, which had barely moved a kilometer away. He saw the smoke. Andre hurried back to the ranch and told the family. When he returned with the others and they were able to reach the vehicle, they realized the tragedy. Rhonita and the burned children, the pilot's door full of bullet holes. The official version released by the Government attributes the massacre to a confrontation between cartels. As he said Tuesday, General Homero Mendoza, the vehicles of the LeBarón family were confused by hitmen from the La Línea cartel with members of a rival group.
Sitting on a white table, with a beer in his hand, Andre he says: “Look, we had never had a problem with them. We know those on the sign here and if you don't do anything to them, they don't do anything to you. But now…".
Family and friends have attended this morning to the funeral service for Dawna and two of her children at the ranch. At about 2:00 p.m. (local time), the coffins, which they manufactured in the carpentry of the community, left the funeral for the pantheon. They loaded the boxes in vans and took them to one end of the ranch.
This afternoon funerals will be held for Rhonita and her four children. Adrian LeBarón, Rhonita's father, was stressed this morning, getting death certificates and permits to move the bodies. Early tomorrow, a huge group of trucks will leave here for Galeana, with the coffins. They will be buried there.
Now they do not know and feel helpless. The hours it took for the authorities to arrive, the frustration of not being able to act, the surprise of the attack after years of peaceful coexistence. At least tolerance. Suspicions that the attack was the work of an outside group. All that makes them think about how to do now, how to react.
If before security was part of the routine, it now appears as the main concern. Before the roast and twilight, under a lazy afternoon sun, General Alberto Nava, in charge of coordinating security in the area, talked with some neighbors of the ranch, about the days to come. First, the safety of their families, who were beginning to arrive on pilgrimage from different parts of Mexico and the United States. And then, the pilgrimage on Friday, when the LeBarón will return with Rhonita's body to Galeana, in Chihuahua, where he was born. The same path where they killed her. Nava gave them peace of mind and told them that he will try to keep a base of 30 men on the ranch for the next few weeks.
Since Monday, Kendra Lee Miller, 27, has become a kind of spokeswoman for the US media. She appeared on the Anderson Cooper program on CNN and they look for her every time to ask for something.
Sitting at the same table as Andre, Kendra says she was going to get married next Monday, November 11. They had to cancel it. Just this Monday, before leaving, Rhonita, her sister-in-law, entered her room to ask her about the bridesmaids' dresses. Kendra doesn't remember how the conversation went, she was still half asleep, but it was the last time she talked to her. “We are fed up with the policy of hugs without bullets,” he says, referring to the president's mantra, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, repeated to satiety, a symbol of his security strategy. From the beginning, López Obrador has said he will not fight violence with more violence. Faced with situations like the one they experienced on Monday, the woman replies: “That’s bullshit"
In line with what the president of the United States, Donald Trump, said on Tuesday about a possible collaboration of that country in the "war on drugs" in Mexico, Kendra says it is totally necessary. "The people who did that are terrorists." Kendra goes further. He says he will dedicate the rest of his life to lobbying for the right of Mexicans to bear arms, in the style of what happens in the United States. "It is the only way to protect ourselves, because here we know that the authorities are corrupt."
Earlier in the afternoon, after General Nava left, Pablo Langford, one of the founders of La Mora, 75, tried to find an explanation for what happened. “I supported López Obrador, but now? Either he is wrong or he is a coward. You can't forgive thugs. You have to go for them. ” The violence never came here the way it arrived on Monday and Mr. Langford is not worth the allegedly pacifist government policy. Understand that violence increased the same during previous governments, that of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto. Your solution? "We have to arm ourselves all." The man, with a white beard and hair, sunken eyes, just two bright grooves in his face, reflects and adds: “You know what? I should not say this, but we should end 60% of the population. Here and across the border. It is corruption, they have let the mafia in. It is all taken. ”
Faith of errors
In a previous version of this report a poorly written name appeared, with the wrong last name. It wasn't Andrew Langford. It's Andre Miller. The error has been corrected in the text.
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