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LeBaron: Cartels… or…

6 November 2019

Naturally, the US media, following the lead of Donald Trump’s “call for a ´war´against the country’s drug cartels, is making the assumption that the women and children from the LeBaron Colony in Chihuahua were victims of “drug related violence”.  However, the history of that colony suggests several other plausible suspects.

The  British, and presumably more international in scope than US based media, headlines their story on the incident “Mexico: up to nine members of US Mormon family killed in ambush”… immediately repeating two misleading, and possibly relevant, facts.  There have been English-speaking Mormon colonies in Mexico since the 1880s, these communities are considered by the “official” Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latterday Saints) as Mormon and integrated into Mexico, seen as, and legally, Mexicans.  The LeBaron colony only dates back to the 1920s, founded by what the Latterday Saints consider a “heretical” sect (a Mormon friend of Mexfiles once referred to the LeBaron group as the “crazy cousins we don’t talk about”) with a bizarre and violent history of inter.familial and inter.communal murderous dissension. It is, indeed, within the realm of plausibility that this particularly gruesome crime was another chapter in that history.

About that “with an asterisk”:  the major Mormon colonies, while they maintain cordial relations with, and family ties, to, U.S. Mormons (Senator Mitt Romney’s father was born in the colony), never deny their Mexican identity, and are well represented in local, state, and national affairs, both in business and politics.  On the other hand, the LeBaron colonists tend to hold themselves apart from their neighbors, often plan to have their children born in the United States  in order to claim U.S. citizenship, and maintain homes and businesses across the border.  And, holding themselves aloof for the most part, from the local community.

Although it is true that the colony, sitting astride a major drug smuggling route, had become well known for its fight against “cartels” (sympathetically detailed in a “VIce” video) and have been victimized by narcotics gangs, a lesser known (outside of Mexico) threat to the colony comes from their neighbors… ejidos and small independent farmers, who dub the community the “LeBaron Cartel” for their tight control over water resources in the desert.  Allegations by the colony’s neighbors that the community uses its substantial financial resources (from US businesses, as well as their own large scale agricultural production) to “influence” water control boards, have been illegally drilling wells on their property, to the detriment of the region, and to curry favor with Chihuahua’s governor.

Last year, the “water fights” turned ugly, with local farmers “invading” the colony, wells attacked, and shots fired (here, here, here, here, and here).  The issue has not died away since last summer, and, if anything, the local small farmers are even more frustrated and angry with the LeBaron group than ever.  Admittedly, some of those farmers may be marijuana growers, or connected with one or another so-called “cartel” themselves, but there are dark hints floating around (and have been floating around for some time) that the LeBaron community also has its share of “druggies” as well.  The massacre may well have been in retaliation for the water usage (including that for a golf course… in the middle of the desert).

A final, though (one hopes) unlikely possibility has to do with national politics, at its dirtiest.  A few years back, the odd couple of the colony’s acknowledged leader, Julien LeBaron and Catholic poet and journalist, Javier Sicilia — both of whom had near relations murdered by narcotics gangs — co-led a movement for more protection for civilians, including military operations against “cartels”.  LeBaron, as far as one can tell, has never been a supporter of the left, and Sicilia rejected AMLO, and his calls for “hugs not drugs” early on.

The recent “event” in Cuiliacan has been useful to those on the right, and pro-US “liberals” (in the economic sense of the word) who seem to hope for the 4th Transformation government to fail.  Coupled with retired General Carlos Gaytán Ochoa’s speech, and interviews with other generals and officers who — despite having enjoyed the fruits of government largess to the military establishment — express unhappiness with AMLO’s security plans (or, as they say, lack of plans).  Through in recent coordinated attempts to discredit AMLO from what’s left of the corrupt Calderón administration coupled with the widely held suspicion that the cartels, the military and the previous government (anf various state officials in Chihuahua) are “mobbed up” with each other, the conspiracy minded among us are free to speculate that the hit on the LeBarons was meant to force either AMLO to resign, or to drop any attempts to pacify and demilitarize the country, and to return to the (highly profitable for both US arms and military hardware providers and the Mexican military and conservative political elites) war on drugs.  Or, on some disfavored drug exporters, anyway.   By that theory, it would have been simple for a military or political operative to tip off a cartel (which one?) about the LeBaron family outing, and arrange for an incident, whether meant to kill several children or whether they were, as was said in the previous two administrations, “collateral damage”.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. norm permalink
    9 November 2019 5:19 am

    Your theory makes a better case than it was a case of mistaken identity. I can see why whoever put this killing together might want the local hoodlums to take the heat while the leaders of the clan get the message.


  1. The more than Mormon Murders — Chihuahua | The Mex Files

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