Gun-Toting Mormons (Drug Cartels vs. Mormons Part 4/7)

Uploaded by vice on Sep 20, 2012


SHANE SMITH: 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
watch towers.
BRENT LEBARON: We hit a real big low, you know, when they
killed Benjamin.
It was a real big blow to our entire community.
BRENT LEBARON: I was really close to Benjamin.
Knew him really well.
SHANE SMITH: After Benjamin was killed, you set up your
own community watch, your own night watch.
And then you built this up and you have people
watching every night.
BRENT LEBARON: Every night.
SHANE SMITH: What are you watching for?
BRENT LEBARON: 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 LEBARON: One of them, yeah.
SHANE SMITH: The only people here with
weapons are the criminals.
BRENT LEBARON: Pretty much.
SHANE SMITH: The drug cartels.
BRENT LEBARON: Rumor got out that we had high-powered
rifles and snipers and whatnot.
SHANE SMITH: And 50 cals up here and stuff.
BRENT LEBARON: 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 LEBARON: It was a really good rumor for us.
I believe that the watch tower 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
watch towers.
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 LEBARON: Here and there.
Before it was literally two, three a week.
It's a lot.
BRENT LEBARON: That's a lot, yeah.
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 counterterrorist
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 road blocks 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?
CAR DRIVER: Well, there's really no law in Mexico that
gives you the right to bear arms.
Legally, the quickest and the 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?
CAR DRIVER: Our ex-mayor wouldn't sign
the papers we needed.
We had all the first members on a list.
Well, he turns around and it shows it
to our bad-boy buddies.
SHANE SMITH: You're trying to arm yourselves, and he's
working for the cartel.
So you can't arm yourselves.
CAR DRIVER: Exactly.
Pretty much.
SHANE SMITH: Where is he now?
CAR DRIVER: 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--

I think 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 is now a Congressman, is determined to
protect his colony from the cartels, no
matter what it takes.
Even if it means a shoot out 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 in the same military-- know that we have
weapons, because we've been saying it.
ALEX LEBARON: 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 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--
SHANE SMITH: --are coming from America.
ALEX LEBARON: Absolutely.
SHANE SMITH: And the money is coming from America.
BRENT 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.

One of the things that we were worried about was people
knowing that we were here.
They've just announced to the whole town that we're here
shooting, in a town where they used to have three or four
kidnappings a week.
I'm going to get drunk.