Surviving family members have been forced to grab onto the burnt-out, bullet-ridden hulk of a car as they broke down after visiting the place where their relatives were murdered.
Three mums — Christina Langford Johnson, Dawna Ray Langford and Rhonita LeBaron — were shot to death by a Mexican cartel on Monday afternoon local time. Six of their children, including infant twins, were also brutally murdered.
Rhonita LeBaron and her family were murdered around 18km away from the two other families after she fell behind, forced to change a flat tyre.
The cartel has since been identified by Mexican military as La Linea (The Line), a drug cartel based in Chihuahua.
A relative of Ms LeBaron, who did not want his name used for fear of retaliation, said in an interview that when they finally made it to the scene where the ambush started they found her burnt-out Chevy Tahoe.
Inside, they saw the charred remains of Ms LeBaron, 30, her 10-year-old daughter, a son, 12, and her eight-month-old twins. They were "burnt to a crisp," the relative said.
The gunmen had riddled the vehicle with dozens of bullets and apparently hit the gas tank, causing it to explode.
Family members have since visited the burnt out car, sobbing near the vehicle.
Less than 20km down the road, police found the other two mums and some of their dead children.
Christina Langford Johnson was found a few metres from her van after trying to leave her driver's seat and wave her arms to show she wasn't a threat.
She had been shot to death but her seven-month-old daughter, Faith Marie Johnson, was discovered uninjured in her car seat.
Kendra Miller, a relative, wrote that the baby's car seat "seemed to be put on the floor by her mother to try and protect her. ... She gave her life to try and save the rest".
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Mexican police and heartbroken relatives said three mums, all with dual US-Mexican citizenship and living in a Mormon community just south of the border, had been travelling in the north of Mexico in a convoy when they were targeted.
Police said the mums — — had been driving the three SUVs on a remote and unpaved mountain road about 1pm on Monday local time when they were attacked.
The cars, filled with their children, had been travelling from the Mormon community of La Mora in the Mexican state of Sonora down to Pancho Villa in Chihuahua.
Eight young children survived by hiding. Five of the surviving children were badly wounded including one child shot in the face.
Devin Blake Langford, 13, is being hailed a hero after he managed to help his siblings before walking 22km back to La Mora to get help. Devin is the son of Dawna Ray Langford.
"After witnessing his mother and brothers being shot dead, Devin hid his six other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help," a relative said.
"When he took too long to return, his 9-year-old sister left the remaining five to try again."
His sister, McKenzie Rayne Langford, was eventually rescued after getting lost in the mountains.
McKenzie and Devin's 14-year-old sister had been shot in the foot leaving her stuck to sit in the bushes.
A short distance away, their 43-year-old mum lay dead in the front seat of an SUV, along with the bullet-riddled bodies of her sons, ages 11 and two.
A group of male relatives set out to try to rescue the youngsters but turned back when they heard gunfire ahead.