Mitt Romney’s father George was born in a Mormon colony in Colonia Juarez, Mexico. Mormons are still there, and are actively fighting drug cartels, kidnappings, violence, corruption, and crime, as documented in The Mexican Mormon War video from Vice. The Mormons are tough, well-armed, and well-organized. Their illegal weapons, as well as the narco’s illegal weapons, come from America. The money comes from America. The drugs are shipped to America. The war is fought in Mexico. For now.
Some Mormons moved to Mexico in the 1870’s, where polygamy was still legal, after the US government ordered LDS to renounce polygamy or be exterminated. (However, that’s another story.) Current day Mormons in Colonia Juarez are well-off, have nice homes and schools, and that’s why they are targeted by the narcos. Mormons fought back, led by the LeBaron family. Brent LeBaron’s great-uncle was the bat-shit crazy killer Ervil LeBaron who believed in blood atonement, and who killed or had killed anyone who opposed him, including wives, children, and probably Brent’s grandfather. This happened in the 1980’s. Ervil was responsible for dozens of murders. Because of this insane split within the family, the LeBaron’s learned to be watchful, tough, and ready.
So, when a local cartel kidnapped 16-year-old Eric LeBaron and demanded one million dollars ransom, Mormons put such pressure on the government, that Eric was returned unharmed with no ransom paid. The narcos retaliated by killing two members of the LeBaron clan. The narco leader was eventually offered up to the US, but 20 or so others involved in the murders were never prosecuted.
Mormons set up checkpoints, watch towers, and use counter-terrorism techniques. The military also has a base in their area (because they trust Mormons) and routinely sets up roadblocks. Killings and kidnappings in the area have lessened. All this without being able to own privately own weapons. Sort of. If you start a gun club in Mexico, you do get access to weapons, even if you can’t own them. Their first attempt at founding such a club was thwarted by a corrupt mayor who was working for the narcos. He is now in prison and the Mormons got their gun club. They also point-blank say they have illegal weapons and “come find them if you want.”
Alex LeBaron is a congressman there working to legalize gun ownership. The Mexico Army once attacked their area. The LeBarons thought the Army were criminals and shot a soldier. Cartel leaders called to say they had new respect for the LeBarons. Which gives some idea how insane things in Mexico can get.
The cartels of Juarez, Mexico, are at war with a group of Mormons, some of whom are related to Mitt Romney. We went there to document the conflict, meet Romney’s Mormon family, and find out more about how US policy is impacting the war on drugs.
Hosted by VICE Founder Shane Smith.