Mexico’s president to visit with U.S. citizens with Utah connections who lived through November attacks

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) David Langford and other pallbearers arrive at the cemetery after the funeral for Dawna Langford and two of her children, Trevor and Rogan, in La Mora, Sonora on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019.

Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is scheduled to visit the Mexican hometown of the nine U.S. citizens who were gunned down in November.

David Langford, whose wife and two children were among those slain, said Tuesday that the visit is scheduled for Jan. 14 in La Mora, Sonora. A relative, Adam Langford who is the former presidente (the equivalent of mayor) in La Mora, said the date has changed multiple times, but his understanding was the visit is set for Jan. 14.

David Langford has been residing with many of his children in southwestern Utah in recent weeks but said he plans to return to his ranch in La Mora for López Obrador’s visit. He might go back and forth between the United States and La Mora, he said, but his family will never move back there.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador gives his first year's state of the nation address at the National Palace in Mexico City, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

López Obrador met with relatives of some of the victims Dec. 2 in Mexico City, about 1,300 miles from where the attacks took place, but figures to meet more of the families in La Mora.

The families were critical of the Mexican government during the funerals days after the Nov. 4 attacks, both for the government’s inability to protect citizens from drug cartel violence and for politician’s refusal to allow citizens to arm themselves.

“The irony of it is: We live in a country that takes our weapons away,” David Langford said at the funeral for his wife and two sons, “and we can’t even defend ourselves.”

López Obrador has come under particular scrutiny for his softer approach to the cartels, described by many as “hugs, not bullets.”

(Courtesy Miller and Langford families) This photo illustration shows photos of three of the victims in the Nov. 5, 2019, attacks in Mexico against U.S. citizens from La Mora, Sonora, Trevor Harvey Langford, 11, his mother, Dawna Langford, and his brother Rogan Jay, identified here as age 3, though other sources have said he was 2 1/2.

On Nov. 4, masked gunmen wearing black and suspected of having ties to drug cartels opened fire on three vehicles about 10 miles apart traveling on a road east of La Mora along the line of the states of Sonora and Chihuahua.

Three mothers and six children — all with Utah ties — were traveling in the caravan when assailants opened fire on their vehicles. The first victims are thought to have been Maria Rhonita Miller, 30, and four of her children, 12-year-old Howard Jr., 10-year-old Krystal and 8-month-old twins Titus and Tiana. Gunmen shot into the SUV the mother was driving and then ignited it.

(Photo courtesy Kenny Miller) Maria Rhonita Miller holds her twins Tiana (left) and Titus in 2019. All three, as well as 12-year-old Howie and 10-year-old Krystal, died Nov. 4, 2019, in a shooting and fire near La Mora, Mexico. A cartel is suspected of killing the Millers and four others that day.

Up the road, gunmen fired upon a vehicle carrying David Langford’s wife, Dawna Ray Langford, killing her and two of her sons, 11-year-old Trevor and 2-year-old Rogan. Five other Langford children were wounded.

Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 31, died in the other vehicle. She was the sister of Adam Langford.

A child walks past a coffin that contain the remains of Christina Langford Johnson the last victim of a cartel ambush that killed nine American women and children earlier this week, in Colonia Le Baron, Mexico, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. In the attack Monday, Langford Johnson jumped out of her vehicle and waved her hands to show she was no threat to the attackers and was shot twice in the heart, community members say. Her daughter Faith Marie Johnson, 7 months old, was found unharmed in her car seat. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A police chief in Janos, Chihuahua, about a three-hour drive east of where the killings happened, is among those Mexican authorities have arrested in connection with the deaths.

The victims and their families belong to part of a community in La Mora that is a mix of people who worship as offshoots of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The community began as a place to practice polygamy after the mainstream Salt Lake City-based church abandoned the practice. Residents say few people there practice polygamy now.

David Langford said he plans to visit La Mora after a stop in Tucson, Ariz. That’s where his son Cody is scheduled for another surgery Jan. 12. Cody, who was 8 when the attacks happened, was hit by three bullets and four pieces of shrapnel. One bullet went down his mouth and hit his jaw.