Self-declared anti-corruption guerrilla IRIS

An armed group declaring war on Mexico's corruption has sprung up in a regional hotbed of organized crime and insurgency, where public distrust in state institutions continues to stir conflict.

The group, which calls itself the Insurgency for Institutional and Social Rescue (Insurgencia por el Rescate Institucional y Social - IRIS), has declared a "war" against politicians with alleged ties to organized crime in the southern state of Michoacán, Proceso reported.

IRIS, which has released at least three short videos on social media, recently granted Proceso an interview with its representative and spokesperson, who calls himself José María.

A video report by Proceso on a group of armed men who say they have taken up arms against corruption in Mexico.

 

"Our objectives are corrupt politicians," María stated. "We will not kill them, we are not terrorists, we are not assassins. We will expose them." Although armed, María told Proceso that the insurgents will only use their weapons for self-defense.

The group has accused Michoacán governor Silvano Aureoles and former Michoacán security commissioner Alfredo Castillo of links with drug-trafficking organizations.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Vigilantes

IRIS first announced its existence via banners and social media postings in February 2016. This was around the same time other banners appeared, announcing the creation of the "Nueva Familia" organization, a group that some government officials said had criminal ties. 

Following the publication of Proceso's report, Michoacán Attorney General José Martín Godoy Castro stated that there was no evidence of a guerrilla insurgency in Michoacan, and that this was a case of false video recordings. State governor Silviano Aureoles Conejo also dismissed the group as a "joke."

InSight Crime Analysis

It is so far unclear whether or not this new armed group should be considered a genuine threat, or whether they are a small mix of idealists who pose no danger to the state.

As security analyst Alejandro Hope has pointed out, although IRIS appears to be poorly armed and low in numbers, the group should not be immediately be given the brush-off.

While the group's motives may appear to be too vague to appeal to a large following, "anyone looking at the autodefensas [the self-defense forces of Michoacán, which IRIS members participated in] in early 2013 would have probably said the same thing," Hope stated.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's Security Dilemma: Michoacan's Militias

The comparison is a significant one. Michoacán's vigilante movement was created to fight violent organized criminal groups in the region. Although it managed to gain significant power and local support, it later became embroiled in drug trafficking and in 2014 it was integrated into a questionable rural police force.

The disappearance of 43 students in the nearby state of Guerrero further fueled widespread distrust of the government, sparking concern that this dissatisfaction could feed broader insurgent movements. 

Michoacán remains in disarray, and its weak institutions are unable to prevent numerous small armed groups from taking shape. With tensions still bubbling under the surface, how much influence IRIS or other new armed groups will amass remains to be seen.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...