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Mormons mourn their massacred kin in Mexico: 'Our lives will never be the same'

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LA MORA, Mexico -- In the days since her 18-year-old son breathlessly reported that something terrible had happened to her four grandchildren and daughter-in-law, Loretta Miller has cooked nonstop.

Burritos, posole, eggs, potatoes, chicken.

She has cooked to feed the Mexican federal forces sent here to protect her family, the relatives arriving to attend the funerals and the streams of international journalists who have come to this remote corner of northern Mexico to find out why nine American women and children were ambushed and killed while driving through the mountains here on Monday.

Raising 14 children and 27 grandchildren prepared Miller for this.

"We're a big family," she said as a pot of soup simmered on the stove. "We know how to deal with crowds."

While most houses in this part of Sonora state are made in the Mexican style of adobe or cinder block, Miller's would not look out of place on a cul-de-sac in a Southern California subdivision. In this land of soccer, even the basketball hoop in the driveway is a giveaway that the tiny hamlet of La Mora is different.

 

Amid the landscape of cactus and mesquite, the American-style homes and perfectly manicured lawns stand out.

So do the town's residents: a community of largely blond and blue-eyed families from a fundamentalist Mormon sect who hold both American and Mexican citizenship.

Their navy U.S. passports separate them from their neighbors, allowing them to work or own businesses in the U.S., while many local Mexicans toil in $8-a-day factory jobs in the low-slung maquilas that hug the border.

Until this week, the Mormons thought they had another kind of American privilege: protection from narco violence. In the 12 years since Mexico declared war on its drug cartels, sparking an era of record-breaking bloodshed, the cartels have committed horrific acts of violence against Mexicans but have rarely targeted Americans like Miller and her family, aware of the bad publicity and unwanted law enforcement attention it would bring.

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