Cousin of murdered Mormon says cartels thrive due to US demand

Cousin of murdered Mormon says cartels thrive due to US demand
Copyright 2019 CNN
"I believe the United States is the reason why Mexico has drug cartels, because they're the biggest consumers," said Nahoma Jensen De LeBaron, a cousin of one of the victims.

Nahoma Jensen De LeBaron, the cousin of one of the nine victims of Monday’s massacre in the mountains of Mexico, said the cartels they suspect of the attack exist due to the demand for drugs in the United States.

“I believe the United States is the reason why Mexico has drug cartels, because they’re the biggest consumers,” LeBaron told CNN en Espanol on Friday before families buried more of the dead.

She said the problem wasn’t all Americans but there were enough people buying drugs to keep organized crime in Mexico busy.

LeBaron said US citizens need to step up and do things to lessen the demand for drugs that are destroying families. But she also pointed to the Mexican government, saying the justice system there doesn’t do enough to bring the cartels to justice.

Six children and three women were shot and killed Monday on a remote dirt road in Sonora, an attack relatives and other members of the community think was targeted at the three-vehicle convoy.

Mexican authorities have said they think a criminal group is responsible.

Like LeBaron, Lenzo Widmar was a cousin of Rhonita Miller, who died. He told CNN en Espanol that if Mexico can’t handle its problems, it should accept financial help from the United States — but change has to come from within.

“I don’t think our government is capable of solving this problem,” he said. “I think this is a problem that the Mexican people have to solve.”

He said Mexicans need to go out and preach about non-violence.

“But if there’s a war going on we need to be soldiers, and we have to have a time and a place for everything,” he added.

He said Mexican society needs to be healed. He said criminals have no value for human life, and that needs to change.

The convoy of three vehicles that was ambushed set out Monday from the La Mora settlement in Sonora, founded decades ago by fundamentalists associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The victims lived there. Many were natives of Mexico, with dual US-Mexican citizenship. For some, their ancestors came to the area in the 1880s.

A spokesman from the LDS Church said the victims were not members.

LeBaron and Widmar each said members of the community don’t plan on leaving.

“This is our country,” LeBaron said. She said they want to raise children there in a small community where people have the same value system.

Widmar said the roots are well established in their town of La Mora.

“We’ll die before we leave,” he said. “This is our identity. To leave would be losing our identity.”

He said the community has united and become stronger in the aftermath of the killings.

CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Jackie Castillo and Gonzalo Alvarado contributed to this report.