LA MORA, Mexico (AP) — With Mexican soldiers guarding the entrance to town, hundreds of people converged on this remote farming community for the first funerals Thursday for the nine American women and children killed by drug cartel gunmen.
Dozens of high-riding pickups and SUVS, many with U.S. license plates from as far away as North Dakota, bumped across dirt and rock roads over desert, arid grasslands and pine-covered mountains Wednesday as night fell on this community of about 300, where many residents are dual U.S.-Mexican citizens who consider themselves Mormon but are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At least 1,000 visitors were expected to bunk down in the hamlet overnight ahead of Thursday’s funerals, filling floor space in the 30 or so homes or sleeping in tents they brought with them. At least one cow was slaughtered to help feed the masses as well as the few dozen soldiers guarding the entrance.
Steven Langford, who was mayor of La Mora from 2015 to 2018, said he expects the killings to have a major effect on the community.
At one time, he didn’t think twice about moving around the area in the middle of night, but in the past 10 to 15 years, things “got worse and worse and worse.” As many as half of the residents could end up moving away, he said.
“It was a massacre, 100% a massacre,” said Langford, whose sister Christina Langford was one of the women killed. “I don’t know how it squares with the conscience of someone to do something so horrible.”