Monday saw the death of three mothers and six children near the United States and Mexico border. It is assumed that the dominant drug cartel of the region targeted the group on the road. They shot the women and children as well as torched one of the vehicles. Out of seventeen people attacked, nine have been confirmed dead.

Rhonita Maria LeBaron, Christina Langford Johnson and Dawna Langford were driving three separate vehicles. The women were accompanied by their children. While LeBaron was heading to Phoenix to pick up her husband, the Langfords were heading to a wedding anniversary venue in Chihuahua.

LeBaron was driving some distance behind the other two women when the attack happened. The cartel riddled LeBaron's vehicle with bullets before torching it. The mother of six died in the attack along with her son Howard Jacob, 12, daughter Krystal, 10, and six-month-old twins Titus and Tiana.

Mexican vigilantes
Life expectancy in Mexico has dropped rapidly in a five year period, due to increasing numbers of murder Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Christina and Dawna were also targeted as the cartel members gunned down their vehicles as well as those who tried to escape. Along with the two women, Dawna's sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 3, have also been confirmed dead.

According to The New York Times, Rhonita's cousin, Julian LeBarón, gave gruesome details of the attack. He shared the information that one of the mothers stepped out of the car with her arms raised to surrender to the cartel. However, she was shot point-blank in the chest. One of the children was gunned down while trying to run away from the attackers.

Christina managed to save her seven-month-old daughter by throwing her to the car's floor when the barrage of bullets started. Rescuers found the baby alive on the floor hours after the attack.

One of the brave boys helped his siblings hide on the side of the road before running back to his home for help.

The Daily Mail pointed out that the large LeBaron and Langford families were worried that the missing family members had been raped. Chihuahua state attorney general, Cesar Augusto Peniche said that details of the incident are still unclear.

The orthodox Mormon family had been residing in the Mexican state of Sonora for decades. The reason behind the attack on the helpless group of women and children remains unknown. While some family members say it was a case of mistaken identity, the family has a history of being killed by the cartel.

Benjamin LeBaron, the founder of anti-crime group SOS Chihuahua, was abducted and murdered in 2009. The families are vocal about the violence they face due to drug trafficking in the area. However, no cause has been officially determined.