Farmers Confront LeBaron Family Over Water-Use Dispute In Armed Attack

Published: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 2:20pm
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 2:22pm
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Kendal Blust/KJZZ
The road from the community of La Mora into Chihuahua where the LeBarons live.

Last year, the murders of nine women and children — all dual U.S.-Mexican citizens — by suspected drug cartel members in rural Sonora, Mexico, shocked the world. Family members of the victims, who are part of a community descended from Mormon settlers, faced an armed attack this week with local farmers.

A years-long conflict over water use between nearby farmers and the LeBaron family in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua led to a standoff on the LeBarons’ La Mojina ranch Sunday night.

Farmers accuse the family of reconnecting illegal wells that are depleting water resources for the surrounding communities.

Julian LeBaron said he is convinced the family’s actions are legal: “We also have all the titles and the paperwork in order, and our attorneys have guaranteed us that we are in the right"

But he said the real issue is the violence authorities allow to continue.

"Whether or not we have the right to use to use the water is one subject," he said. "Invading and destroying private property has nothing to do with whether or not we have the right to use the water.

LeBaron said about 30 farmers threw rocks at the families’ lawyers and poured gasoline on their vehicles, then shot more than 100 rounds onto the property.

Now, he wants the government to intervene to avoid further conflicts.

"We hope at some point … the federal authorities will at least rule on it, and tell us who’s right and who’s wrong and at that point have some type of law enforcement do their job," he said. "We will do our best to present our point, but we will not cede to violence."

Fronteras Sonora