The Mexican Mormon War (Drug Cartels vs. Mormons Full Length)

Uploaded by vice on Sep 26, 2012


MITT ROMNEY: Drug trafficking.
That's one more of those areas of concern.
It's time for the United States of America to take
responsibility for the pain and suffering and torture and
murder that's going on throughout Latin America.
SHANE SMITH: Maybe one of the reasons that Mitt Romney is so
concerned with the drug wars taking place just south of the
American border is that it affects him and his family
Hi, I'm Shane Smith and we're here at the Vice headquarters
in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Now, Williamsburg is ground zero for hipsters.
Which means it's also ground zero for partying.
Which means it's ground zero for cocaine.
Now, Vice has talked a lot about cocaine over the years.
In fact, one of our magazine covers featured a mirror with
a big line of coke chopped up on it.
But recently, we followed a story that made us think twice
about our historical fascination with coke.
And it has to do with Mormons--
as in Mitt Romney's family-type Mormons--
Mexican drug cartels, polygamy, kidnapping, cocaine,
and finally, murder.
Now, it's a freaky, freaky story.
And it's taking place just south of the US border.
So we went to check it out firsthand to see
what's going on.

We just passed through from El Paso, in Texas, which is
actually one of the safest cities in America, into
Juarez, Mexico, which is actually one of the most
dangerous cities in the world.
In fact, it's the most dangerous city in the world
for journalists.
And we're driving with the camera rolling, which is, in
retrospect, very fucking stupid.
People always ask me what the most dangerous place I've ever
been to is.
And when I say Mexico, they're a bit flummoxed.
And they say, Mexico, I've been to Mexico.
I've been to Cancun, Joe's Tequila Foam Party
and Boom Boom Room.
But this Mexico, here in Juarez, is the Mexico run by
the narco lords.
They don't care about what you're shooting.
They don't walk up and say, hey, what's that camera for?
They just see a camera and go, that can't be good.
And bam.
Now, the drug lords that rule northern Mexico are like most
mafia around the world.
They're very wealthy, and they're insanely ruthless.
But the thing that sets the Mexican cartels apart from the
other mobs is their seemingly profound love of murder.

They put other crime syndicates to shame with the
sheer scale of their killing, not to mention the gruesome,
eye-catching way they present their murders, with a kind of
evil inventiveness.

And it's not just traditional gang-on-gang violence, either.
The cartels kill anyone and everyone in their way.
Rivals, witnesses, journalists, politicians, and
police are all targets.
And rather than hiding the bodies like most criminals,
they actually want you to see them.
And they want you to know exactly who did it.
In fact, the war on drugs in Mexico is so violent that its
body count is almost 10 times that of American soldiers
killed in the real wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And in a country where it's supposedly illegal to own
guns, the narcos are armed to the teeth with
state-of-the-art weaponry, 90% of which are smuggled in from
the United States, which is something we got to see
firsthand as soon as we arrived in Juarez.
SHANE SMITH: We came in here, and we saw this huge bunker.
And we're like, oh, this is where they hold all the guns
and all the drugs and everything, in this big,
massive concrete bunker.
And they're like, no, no.
The drugs and the guns are here in the trucks.
That's a nightclub called The Sphinx.

So last night, the police caught these guys trying to
smuggle in 268,000 rounds of ammunition in a truck with
Oklahoma plates.
It was driven by a guy from Dallas.
Over a quarter of a million rounds of ammunition.
This is the kind of firepower that they have.

This is a 30-caliber Browning, which shoots super fast and
can shoot through armored cars.
And then they have this antiaircraft .50 cal.
Can I pick it up?
SHANE SMITH: Shit, I did.
I put my finger on it.
I'm going to get in trouble.
They just confiscated these weapons, and I
touched the .50 cal.
And they haven't dusted them for prints yet.
So now my prints are on a murder weapon.
Not good.
SHANE SMITH: These look like they're from America.
America America, America.
All the guns are from America.
They're all homicides [INAUDIBLE].
They've tested them out?
SHANE SMITH: Oh, sorry.
SHANE SMITH: That was loud.
It smells very strong.
Holy Jesus.
I knows this doesn't look like crazy, but you can smell, wow.
It's a lot of drugs.
Drugs and flak jackets.
So this is sort of a rustic type of smuggling called a
burrero, which is like a donkey.
And they just walk through the desert with the
pot on their back.
So the market for the drugs is America.
The market for the weapons is here in Mexico.
And they go like this.
But when you look at this-- like .50 cals, assault rifles,
military-grade machine guns--
you realize, OK, how do the police fight them, let alone
regular people, let alone Mormons, who aren't
allowed to own guns?
It's crazy.

So we're about 200 miles south of Juarez now, and we're out
in the middle of nowhere.
This is the narco superhighway.
There's actually 300 different smuggling trails
right through here.
There's no big wall or anything.
You can just walk off into the desert with your
pack full of cocaine.
And then all of a sudden, coke's in Williamsburg.
And hipsters are doing coke.
As you're out here, it kind of dawns on you that there's
nowhere to go.
Like if something happens, or if someone even chases us,
where are we going to run to?
Because you can't trust the police.
You especially can't trust the local police because they're
all corrupt.
So basically right now, it's a straight shot to the Mormons,
their guns, and their God.

MITT ROMNEY: My dad had been born in Mexico, and his family
had to leave during the Mexican revolution.
He had big dreams.
We were Mormons.
And growing up in Michigan, that might have seemed unusual
or out of place.
But I really don't remember it that way.
My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed
than what church we went to.

SHANE SMITH: So we're on our way down here to colonial
Juarez, which is in northern Mexico, in Chihuahua state.
A lot of people may know that Romney and his family are
actually from here.
His father was actually born here in a Mormon colony.
But maybe what they don't know is that these Mormon colonies
are still here, and they're actually fighting the narco
cartels, the drug cartels, that run this whole region.
They're standing up, and they're fighting the
kidnapping and the violence and the crime.
So the question is, what are the Mormons doing down in
Mexico in the first place?
Mormons originally came down to Mexico in the late 1800s,
after the American government forced the Mormon church to
ban polygamy.
The problem with this is that Joseph Smith, the prophet of
the religion, held that polygamy was actually a divine
He believed that you can only reach the highest level of the
celestial kingdom, or heaven, if you were actually a partner
in a plural marriage.
So basically, the more wives you had, the better
heaven would be.
And rather than give up their place in heaven, many moved
down to Mexico to continue to practice polygamy, and thereby
assure their place in the afterlife.
Here in the seclusion of the Mexican desert, they could
practice all the standard Mormon rituals like baptizing
the dead or wearing magic underwear, but also the more
controversial plural marriage.
Or, as we were soon to find out, the outright insane
practice of blood atonement.
So after about five hours of some very nervous driving and
a couple of very thorough stops at military checkpoints,
not to mention two stops at drive-through liquor stores to
calm our very jangling nerves, we finally arrived at the
Mormon promised land.
SHANE SMITH: We left Juarez, which is very dirty and poor
and very druggy.
And then all of a sudden, you come over this hill.
And there's orchards and golf courses.
And the streets are laid out nice.
They've got nice schools.
Kids are playing baseball.
And there's angels.
And It's kind of like, [SINGS HEAVENLY REFRAIN]--
you know, we've come to God's country.
Because it's beautiful here and they obviously have money.
So this is why they're being targeted by the narcos.
And this is why they have to fight back.
So now we're going to go meet some Mormons who are actually
fighting the narco cartel.

This is Brent LeBaron's farm.
They are sort of famously secretive about their weapons,
their fighting, because they don't want to be targeted
anymore by the cartels.
But we're going to go meet him and see if
he'll show us around.

BRENT LABARON: Yeah, how's it going?
SHANE SMITH: Shane Smith.
Nice to meet you.
SHANE SMITH: Nice to meet you.
How you doing?
BRENT LABARON: I'm very, very well.
SHANE SMITH: This is your farm.
BRENT LABARON: This is my farm.
We farm chili and a little bit of wheat.
All depends the time of the season.
SHANE SMITH: We've heard that the LeBaron family, the
LeBaron colony, has sort of been standing up to some of
the narco cartels.
We've had a few run-ins with them.
Don't like to say too much about them, but I'd love to
show you around.
Let's go.
SHANE SMITH: Let's do it.
Now, I didn't know what to expect when I first met Brent.
And when I did, he seemed to me more
American than most Americans.
In fact, I wouldn't have been surprised if he told me he
played linebacker for Alabama.
But when he started to give me the tour around the cemetery,
I realized that his story was anything but normal.
BRENT LABARON: This is the graveyard where my grandfather
and great grandfather are buried.
The original story is they come down for the cause of
plural marriage, to continue it.
You know, Mexico allowed it.
SHANE SMITH: So they wanted to continue polygamy.
My great grandfather, being a fundamentalist, he broke away
from the Mormon church because he had two wives.
That's when he went to establish Colonia LeBaron.
They established five or six colonies down here.
SHANE SMITH: A colony would be like a family.
BRENT LABARON: A few families.
And then your grandfather had 10 wives.
Had children by 8 of those 10, but yes.
SHANE SMITH: And how many grand kids did he have?
BRENT LABARON: Between grand kids and great grand kids,
they're probably pushing the 400 mark right now.
All named LeBaron.
BRENT LABARON: All named LeBaron.
SHANE SMITH: Now, having more than 400 grandchildren might
seem extreme to some.
But it's nothing compared to the shit that Brent's uncle
Ervil got up to.
He was a straight up fucking lunatic.
Now, Ervil not only had 13 wives and over 50 children,
but he also used own family, including his
own kids, as assassins.
Dubbed "the Mormon Manson," Ervil and his family were
suspects in over 40 murders.
SHANE SMITH: Joel LeBaron was killed by his own brother,
Ervil, because of blood atonement.
Well, Ervil tried to take over the church, and he started
claiming blood atonement, the right to kill
in the name of God.
If you oppose him, he has the right to kill you.
Once Ervil snapped, he just went on a killing spree.
He had his daughters killed, his wives
killed, his sons killed.
And it just went from there.
He went haywire.
SHANE SMITH: So Ervil goes on this killing spree across
Mexico and the United States.
And at one point, the Secret Service is after him because
he threatens to kill President Carter.
They finally captured Ervil in 1979 and sent him to prison.
And all the killing stops, right?
SHANE SMITH: And then after he dies in jail, people keep on
killing for him.
BRENT LABARON: He killed up to 25 people after he died
because he left a sort of hit list, and they kept killing.
SHANE SMITH: They kept killing?
They did.
SHANE SMITH: Now, as Brent is telling me all this, I had to
keep in mind that this blood atonement killing spree isn't
taking place in the 1880s or anything.
This is all happening in the 1980s.
BRENT LABARON: My grandfather ran from him
for probably 10 years.
I mean, he chased my grandpa clear to Nicaragua.
SHANE SMITH: Your great uncle was trying to kill your
Verlan M. LeBaron died in a car accident right out of
Mexico City.
A lot of people have been skeptical that actually Ervil
had something to do with it.
And his last recorded words were, brother, it looks like
we've been ran off the road.
That's some crazy shit.
It's just a modern day Cain and Abel here.
SHANE SMITH: Do you think that that's one of the reasons why?
Because you had this sort of familial civil war you got
tighter as a family, So when the narcos came after your
family, you were sort of tougher?
BRENT LABARON: Oh, definitely.
Everyone was a watchman.
SHANE SMITH: Now, what he's saying here is that because of
Ervil, everyone in the LeBaron clan watched out
for everyone else.
So when the cartels kidnapped one of their
own, they were ready.
Eric LeBaron was only 16 when he was abducted and held for
$1 million ransom.
You didn't pay the ransom.
BRENT LABARON: We didn't pay the ransom.
SHANE SMITH: Even if you could get the money and paid it,
they're just going to keep doing it.
BRENT LABARON: They're just going to keep coming
and keep doing it.
SHANE SMITH: They'll just use the money to buy more guns and
get more powerful.
If we don't sever the head off this monster right now, it's
just going to get worse.
We had to go to the government and say, hey.
You won't allow us to bear arms.
But you're supposed to protect us.
SHANE SMITH: The protest forced the government to put
pressure on the kidnappers.
And as is quite rare in these situations, Eric was returned
unharmed after paying no ransom.
However, it also served to enrage the local drug Lord,
named "El Rikin," who only lived eight miles down the
road from Colonia LeBaron.
Now, this is a narco who loves drugs so much that he actually
massacred 18 people trying to get off the stuff at a drug
rehab center.
And now, he's after the LeBarons.

NEWS ANCHOR 1: Two more Americans dead as a result of
the violence in Mexico.
Those victims gunned down this week by drug cartel killers.
NEWS ANCHOR 2: We've done a lot of stories about polygamy
and a lot of stories about Mexican drug cartel violence.
But we never imagined the two topics would mesh like this in
a very tragic way.

SHANE SMITH: The freeing of one of their own by the
LeBarons protesting in Chihuahua had sent a message
to the narcos.
They weren't going to back down.
They weren't going to submit.
They were going to fight.
But it didn't take "El Rikin" long to send a
message right back.

BRENT LABARON: So yeah, this is my cousin Benjamin's home.
This "Rikin" guy actually ordered the hit on him because
of the stand we took.
He was a serious criminal.
I mean, famously, he got caught on the American side of
the border dressed as Mexican military, had a shootout with
the border guards, and then came back here.

So they came here to his house.

He showed up with 15, 20 guys, two, three trucks--
Benjamin and his family were sleeping in the house when
these guys come, surround the house, breaking down his door.
Ended up breaking pretty much most of his windows out.
There's still marks on the door where they were trying to
bash in with guns, whatever they had.
You know, those are sledgehammer marks.
And at that point, they had threatened his family with a
hand grenade.
SHANE SMITH: So they said they'd blow up the family with
a grenade unless he surrendered?
BRENT LABARON: Unless he opened the door.
And so he opened the door.
At that point, his brother-in-law Luis come over
to see what was going on.
He literally showed up in sandals.
He came to the rescue.
He was an innocent bystander.
SHANE SMITH: So he came here barefoot with no gun.
SHANE SMITH: Against guys who are armed with machine guns
and grenades.
But they beat him and picked him and Benjamin up and took
them about two miles down the road here and shot them both
and left them on the side of the road.
So because "El Rikin" put the hit out on Benjamin, it put
enough domestic pressure here that they would offer him up
to the American authorities for the Mexican incident where
he was dressed as the military with the border police.
BRENT LABARON: Very much so.
Very much so, yeah.
Because I don't think they had enough here to hold him here.
So they actually shipped him to the US.
SHANE SMITH: And although "El Rikin" was extradited to
America for his firefights with the border patrol, none
of the other 20-plus men involved in this double
homicide have ever been convicted.

But the LeBarons wouldn't quit.
In fact, Julian LeBaron, Benjamin's brother, has since
taken up his dead sibling's mantle of activism.
SHANE SMITH: Good to meet you.
JULIAN LEBARON: Well, the main thing is,
we want to be respected.
And in Mexico, nobody's respected.
We're not respected by the criminals, and we're not
respected by the government.

"This is for messing with [INAUDIBLE]'s people" or some
stupid shit.
I don't remember what it was.
And that's where they found them.
They shot them four times in the head each.
JULIAN LEBARON: I think that most of us felt really
thankful that we found them, because sometimes they'll take
them and torture them to death.
People from our neighboring communities participated in
this murder.

Those are some of the people that are
involved with this shit.
Those guys are bad boys?

SHANE SMITH: Jesus Christ.

JULIAN LEBARON: 10 children under the age of seven were
left orphans when that happened that night.
My brother and his brother-in-law, they were some
of the most valuable people in our community.
This can never be acceptable.
Because if this is acceptable, there's no future left.
The community-- initially, what we said is, for every
person they kill from our community,
we'll kill 10 of them.
Because we know who they are.
And then we said, well, that's not a solution, because then
you become just like them.

SHANE SMITH: So the sun was going down.
It was getting a little bit late.
And the LeBarons told us that we should get back to our
hotel before it got dark.
We are going to a hotel that's actually in the LeBaron
colony, which hopefully will be a little bit safer.
But after you hear stories like that, you just can't
believe the fear of violence that these people
live under every day.
It makes you paranoid to hear stories like that.
So we're going to go to our hotel and lock ourselves in.

This is a shrine to Jesus Malverde, who's the patron
saint of drug smugglers, narcos.
So we're going to light a candle.
This is freaking me out because I'm very
That's him there.
Patron saint of the drug dealers.
They all come in here, they say a prayer, they write a
prayer on here, and they say, please let me get across the
border with my drugs.
Literally, religion about drug dealers.

Now, the whole time I was hanging out with the LeBarons,
I found myself wondering, how do you actually protect
yourself against narco lords who employ whole armies of
assassins whose sole job is to kill their rivals?
Well, the LeBarons started by adopting military style
tactics and setting up checkpoints, roadblocks, and
BRENT LABARON: We hit a real big low
when they killed Benjamin.
It was a real big blow to our entire community.
I was really close to Benjamin.
Knew him really well.
SHANE SMITH: After Benjamin was killed, you've set up your
own community watch, your own night watch.
And then you built this up, and you have people watching
every night.
BRENT LABARON: Every night.
So we have--
SHANE SMITH: What are you watching for?
BRENT LABARON: Pretty much suspicious vehicles.
We pretty much know everybody.
And so if it looks like a vehicle I've never seen
before, then it was getting checked.
SHANE SMITH: This watch hut looks down on one of the main
drug trafficking roads.
BRENT LABARON: One of them, yeah.
SHANE SMITH: The only people here with
weapons are the criminals.
BRENT LABARON: Pretty much.
SHANE SMITH: The drug cartels.
BRENT LABARON: Rumor got out that we had high-powered
rifles and snipers and whatnot.
SHANE SMITH: And .50 cals up here and stuff.
BRENT LABARON: Well, you know how rumors can spread.
Which was a benefit for us.
SHANE SMITH: Yeah, it's good.
It's a good rumor.
BRENT LABARON: It was a really good rumor for us, you know.
I believe that the watchtower is one of the key points to
keeping the bad guys away from our town.
Also, the feds and the military are in our town.
This is their base.
We actually had a roadblock, to where there was one way in
and one way out.
SHANE SMITH: So you have barricades, checkpoints, and
I would say our valley right here is quite a bit safer than
a lot of areas--
SHANE SMITH: Casas Grandes, which is about 30 minutes
away, they're still having kidnappings and stuff there.
BRENT LABARON: Here and there.
Before, it was literally two, three a week.
That's a lot.
BRENT LABARON: That's a lot, yeah.
So We were never pinpointing drug cartels or anything else,
but when it came to them now kidnapping our family members,
that's what we took a stand against.
When it comes to protecting our family, if we have to die
doing it, we're going to.
SHANE SMITH: So the LeBarons made their colony into a
little fortress using the same counter-terrorist techniques
that the US Army uses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And because of it, the killings and the kidnappings
in the Mormon areas actually died down.
But roadblocks and security checkpoints are only going to
get you so far.
At some point, if you're fighting the narcos, you're
going to need guns.
If Benjamin was taken by a bunch of guys with weapons,
they were unarmed, how are you supposed to defend yourself?
BRENT LABARON: Well, there's really no law in Mexico that
gives you the right to bear arms.
Legally, the quickest and best way is through a gun club.
SHANE SMITH: Now, in Mexico, it's nearly
impossible to own a gun.
In fact, one of the only legal ways to do so is to go through
the extremely difficult process of starting a gun club
or a shooting range.

Why don't you have your own shooting
club in Colonia LeBaron?
BRENT LABARON: Our ex-mayor wouldn't sign
the papers we needed.
We had all the first members on a list.
Well, he turns around and shows it
to our bad boy buddies.
SHANE SMITH: You're trying to arm yourselves, and he's
working for the cartels so you can't arm yourselves.
SHANE SMITH: Where is he now?
BRENT LABARON: He's in prison.

SHANE SMITH: There's 15 million illegal assault rifles
estimated in Mexico.
I mean, the thing is, if you have 20 guys
with assault rifles--

Maybe I'm going to go for one of those turkeys.
Oh yeah.
I'm going to get one of them.
So the LeBarons finally decided that if it continued
to be illegal to own weapons, which meant criminals were the
only ones that had guns, that it was time to change the law.

Alex LeBaron, who's now a congressman, is determined to
protect his colony from the cartels, no
matter what it takes.
Even if it means a shootout with the Mexican military.
ALEX LEBARON: They went into our farm.
We thought they were criminals.
We shot one of them.
It was a very sad incident, but it gained a lot
of respect for us.
SHANE SMITH: You outshot the military.
ALEX LEBARON: We outshot the military.
We got phone calls from heads of the criminal organizations
after that incident.
And they told us they were proud of us to some degree.
People in drug organizations, and including the same
military, know that we have weapons because
we've been saying it.
We have illegal weapons in our community.
Come in and find them if you want.
We buy them in the states.
We know we traffic them illegally.
But that's the only way to defend
yourself in this country.
In order to get access to a weapon here in our country, it
would cost you up to $10,000.
And that wouldn't even be through a legal way.
SHANE SMITH: So the majority of the weapons being used by
the narcos are coming from America.
ALEX LEBARON: Absolutely.
SHANE SMITH: And the money is coming from America.
ALEX LEBARON: Absolutely.
I think the Americans need to really understand that any
policies that are implemented in the United States impact
our country.

SHANE SMITH: So the money for all these guns
is coming from America.
The guns themselves come from America.
The coke is being sold in America.
But the war is being fought in Mexico.
And considering 1,300 people were killed in the region just
this past August alone, in northern Mexico, self-defense
has truly become a matter of life and death.

BRENT LABARON: In the last while, it's actually calmed
down quite a bit.
I haven't heard of that many kidnappings lately.
Usually, it was like, boom.
Every other day, oh my goodness, there was another
kidnapping, you know?
The Joneses got kidnapped.
Like, Romney got kidnapped, or--
just someone you affiliated with.
SHANE SMITH: Now, it's hard to picture a place that's so
fucked up that not that many kidnappings is a sign that
things are going well.
But in northern Mexico, everything is relative.
The sobering reality of it is, in Mexico, in 2011 there were
49 kidnappings a day.
BRENT LABARON: Things have actually kind of calmed down
enough to where they actually have parties
and rodeos and whatnot.

SHANE SMITH: So they're having this rodeo because a
dude lost his leg?
BRENT LABARON: Yeah, one of the cowboys lost his leg, and
they're doing a benefit for him.

SHANE SMITH: One of the things that we were worried about
before we came here was people knowing that we were here,
people knowing that we were shooting.
And now we're in front of the whole town in a town where
they used to have three or four kidnappings a week.
And we're just parading in front of everyone with a
camera going, turn the music off, [INAUDIBLE].

SHANE SMITH: They've just announced to the whole town
that we're here shooting.
In the most dangerous town.
In Chihuahua.

I'm just going to get drunk.

Let's put that on.
SHANE SMITH: Now, hanging out with the LeBarons and play
acting as a cowpoke relaxed us a little bit.
As did the booze.
I'd like to say "cheers" to the LeBaron family because you
guys fucking rock.
BRENT LABARON: To the LeBaron family.
SHANE SMITH: The LeBaron family.
Good times, good friends.
SHANE SMITH: Cheers, cheers, cheers, cheers.
SHANE SMITH: We're all in it together, here we go.
SHANE SMITH: We had a nice lunch, got a bit drunk, and
sang some songs together.
It was fun.
SHANE SMITH: After drinking for a bit with Brent, he
suggested we go on a ride-along on the nightly
patrol of the LeBaron colony.
Now, I was picturing a pickup truck with a CB and a couple
of good ol' boys in the back.
But what we got instead was some heavy, heavy business.

What are we doing right now?
BRENT LABARON: So we're just going to take on a routine
route that they normally take.
And then they'll probably do a security checkpoint for a
little while.
And maybe check some
suspicious vehicles or something.

These guys use our town as a base because they trust
everyone here.
SHANE SMITH: One of the things that's pretty crazy is you're
driving through with pickup trucks with four armed guards
in the back and two guys in the front, all with machine
guns, for a town of 1,200 people.
So shit is serious.

So the federales kept stopping people.
And they didn't seem to mind us riding along with them.
Until they roadblocked the actual highway.
Which, remember, is one of the main drug routes into America.
The cops are going to stop some cars and
look for some drugs.
Then as the sun was going down, they warned us that we
should leave because it was very dangerous to even
be seen with them.
Because as it turned out, riding around with them on the
back roads is one thing.
But stopping actual drug runners on
the highway was another.

You want a beer?
Back at the hotel, we realized that our fun, boozy afternoon
had some unforeseen consequences.
About an hour ago, a black pickup sort of
drove by really slowly.
And then kind of sped off.
Black trucks like the ones Julian had pointed out earlier
had actually stopped, taken pictures, and checked us out.
And all a sudden, our LeBaron run around town drunk time
didn't seem so smart anymore.
All right.
So we have to leave now because we shot
today at the rodeo.
And then we did a drive-by with the cops.
So everybody in town knows that we're here.
And then we've just had a black truck with black windows
stop, pull up, check us out, then drive off.
And a black truck, I just found out, came by and took
pictures of us before I got here.
So we have to go to another hotel that we've arranged,
which is crazy.
So we took off.
And when we called Brent to tell him we had left, I half
expected him to say, hey, you're overreacting.
It's nothing.
But in actual fact, when he heard the
story, he said, oh yeah.
You should get the fuck out of Dodge.

SHANE SMITH: Now, because Colonia LeBaron is so close to
the American border, they're totally affected by our
immigration policy.
And of course, our war on drugs.
If America sneezes, Mexico catches cold.
And because of this, they're extremely interested in
American political policy.

You have narco cartels.
You have a drug route.
You have illegal immigration.
So all of these problems.
Who do you think should be the next President
of the United States?
BRENT LABARON: Mitt Romney has a great, great policy.
SHANE SMITH: Now, are you just saying that
because you're Mormonish?
BRENT LABARON: His ties, his people, his family lives right
across the mountain here.
You should probably meet them.
SHANE SMITH: Now, when Brent says "his family," he means
presidential candidate Mitt Romney's family.
Now, we knew that his father, George Romney, had been born
into a Mormon colony in Mexico.
But not that they still had an active Romney
colony here in Chihuahua.
So the Romneys still live here across the valley?
They're some great guys.
Just really like them.
Golf with them quite often, and just
some really cool guys.
SHANE SMITH: So we went across the valley to check them out.

KELLY ROMNEY: Nine holes with two par
fives and two par threes.
And the rest are fours.
Pretty nice greens, huh?
SHANE SMITH: Beautiful.
How did this golf course start?
KELLY ROMNEY: We just got a group together that liked to
play golf and copied other golf courses, put in a
sprinkling system.
When the violence started, we lost quite a few members.
Just like in Casas Grandes, a lot of people moved out.
SHANE SMITH: You play here with some of the LeBarons from
Colonia LeBaron?
Some of the guys come over here and play.
SHANE SMITH: And who's better?
The LeBarons or the Romneys?
I don't know what they're eating over there, but--

SHANE SMITH: So how long have the Romneys been here?
My great grandfather, Miles Park Romney, was one of the
original people that came here.
Mitt is a relative.
He's a second cousin.
SHANE SMITH: So his dad was born in Chihuahua?
BRENT LABARON: He was born in Colonia Dublan, about
15 miles from here.
Their family left, and they stayed in the United States.
They didn't come back.
You know, I remember his father ran for President of
the United States in '68.
Or at least he was a candidate.
His citizenship was questioned.
Because he was born here in Mexico, but he was born of
American parents.
SHANE SMITH: And do you think that this craziness around the
run-up to the election, is that bringing too much
attention, or?
KELLY ROMNEY: I think one of the reasons it's brought a lot
of attention to here is because of Mitt's position on
illegal immigration.
Now what's ironic about this is that Mitt Romney, whose
father was born in Mexico and would be considered the poster
child of the Dream Act, actually has one of the
staunchest views on immigration in his already
conservative Republican Party.
MITT ROMNEY: And I've indicated I would veto the
Dream Act if provisions included that people who are
here illegally, if they go to school here long enough, get a
degree here, that they can become permanent residents.
I think that's a mistake.
SHANE SMITH: Now, it seems a bit weird for a person who's
essentially a first generation immigrant to have such harsh
views on immigration.
It's kind of like, "Methink thy dost protest too much"
kind of deal.
And his own cousin Kelly, who although he supports Mitt for
president, thinks that his position on
immigration is wrong.
KELLY ROMNEY: I think he needs to change.
Being born and raised in Mexico, and especially since
NAFTA, I think the United States is partly responsible
for the increase in illegal immigration we have.
So America makes policy.
Then all of a sudden, northern Mexico gets screwed up.
KELLY ROMNEY: That's right.
Give amnesty to those that are out there that are working
legitimately and have a job, come up with a guest worker
program, and let these people go out there and work, and
then come home and take care of their family.
Because basically, they're starving to
death here in Mexico.
SHANE SMITH: In fact, it's so bad that for many people,
there's only really two options.
One, sneak into America.
Or two, work for the cartels.
You know, didn't some farmers go up from the farms and go
into the mountains and start growing drugs?
A lot of them have gone into the mountain areas, and they
grow drugs there.
SHANE SMITH: And now we're sitting here going, OK, well,
what are we going to do?
KELLY ROMNEY: What are we going to do?
You know?
I wish Mitt would make contact with us.
And I really think that we could help him.
SHANE SMITH: And as I would later realize, contacting the
Mexican side of his family would probably be the last
thing that Mitt Romney would do.
MITT ROMNEY: I think marijuana should not be
legal in this country.
I believe it's a gateway drug to other drug violations.
The use of illegal drugs in this country is leading to
terrible consequences.

SHANE SMITH: Now, we all know Mitt Romney's stance on drugs.
But it was interesting to hear Kelly's thoughts on the drug
war, considering it affects him every day.
KELLY ROMNEY: To me, this used to be the most peaceful place
in the world.
Yeah, man.
I used let my kids go to Nuevo Casas Grandes, go to the
shows, go to dances, go to parties.
But now, you keep close watch.
And it all has to do with the drug violence that it started.
When they started the war on drugs, the
violence just escalated.
Most of the problems that we have around
here are drug related.
And there's been some kidnappings and some killings
from drug-related things.
SHANE SMITH: Have there ever been any Romneys kidnapped?
KELLY ROMNEY: Yeah, my brother was kidnapped three
years ago in May.
I think they kept him for two days.
Took him to a cave up in the mountains.
We paid a small ransom.
It wasn't a lot.
They were mainly punks.
They weren't really professionals.
SHANE SMITH: And most of the weapons that are here in
Mexico are illegal weapons.
And most of those illegal weapons are
coming from the States.
Fast and Furious, I'm sure you heard about that.
SHANE SMITH: Now, the Fast and the Furious scandal he's
talking about refers to a case where the American government
gave thousands of guns to the cartels in
order to track them.
Then, they proceeded to lose track of them until they
surfaced again in the murder cases of American agents.
KELLY ROMNEY: What, did they think they were going to be
able to keep control of them?
Or keep track of them?
I don't know what in the world they were thinking in sending
all those weapons to Mexico.
SHANE SMITH: And the Fast and the Furious scandal is just
one of many that have seriously embarrassed the
American government.
Now, perhaps Mitt's hard-line stance on issues like guns,
immigration, and drugs becomes more clear.
Because even though his father was born in Chihuahua, Mitt
surely must want to distance himself from the region.
Because the region is totally fucked up.
And it's not the first time that this has been the Romney
strategy either.
When his father ran for president, both his
citizenship and his Mormon colony's polygamist roots were
called into question.
His run for the White House didn't last too long.
But Mitt Romney has to deal with his family's polygamist
past, kidnapping, drug wars, and, in the extreme case of
Ervil LeBaron, crazy Mormon blood atonement.
Now, having close familial ties to all this shit does not
a good presidential candidate make.

Being on the front lines of this, what do you think are
some of the solutions to these problems?
KELLY ROMNEY: Looking at it from a perspective of someone
living here, we say, well, why don't they legalize it in the
United States and cut out all the violence in Mexico?
As long as you have the swimming pool over there, this
is going to be the diving board.

SHANE SMITH: So as we began our long drive back to the
border, I had lots of time to think about what
we'd seen in Chihuahua.
I thought about the LeBarons and the
war against the narcos.
The kidnappings, the murders, and the lengths they have to
go to protect themselves every day.
I also thought about what Kelly Romney had said about
the US being the swimming pool and Mexico
being the diving board.
And how similar all this is to America's history with
outlawing alcohol.

So we're just approaching the border here back into America.
It feels like about a year has passed since
we were here last.
As we were driving here from Chihuahua, I was thinking
about how prohibition in America led to the rise of the
mob, the Al Capones, the Lucky Lucianos.
Our war on drugs, our prohibition against drugs, has
caused the same thing.
You see it down here.
It's the sort of blunt head to the hammer.
It's the rule of the thug.
You have $200 assassins.
And as long as there's prohibition,
it's going to continue.
The war on drugs is a failure.
There's never been more drugs in America, and they've never
been cheaper.
Or better.
Or higher quality.
And as we sat for hours at the border waiting to get back
into America, I thought about the fact that Mitt Romney
might just be the next President
of the United States.
MITT ROMNEY: God bless America.
Thanks, you guys.
SHANE SMITH: Now, polygamy and kidnapping not withstanding,
if he wins, he's going to have some hard decisions to make
about decriminalizing drugs and fixing
our immigration problem.
Because if he doesn't, Mexico, his Mormon brethren, and
perhaps even his own flesh and blood, are
going to pay the price.