• Connect with us on Linkedin

bannerautodenfensasmexico7

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. Read More
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Growth Of Mexican Vigilante Groups Causes Increasing Concern

A member of a self-defense group in Mexico A member of a self-defense group in Mexico

Citizens' self-defense groups are now reportedly operating in 13 Mexican states, as fears intensify that they may turn into paramilitary organizations or be co-opted by criminal gangs.

Linkedin
Google +

Vigilante groups, whose purported aim is to protect their communities from criminals or guard its natural resources, are now present in 68 Mexican municipalities, according to newspaper Reforma. At least three groups have themselves been accused of crimes as the self-defense movement has intensified, said the newspaper -- two for murders in Guerrero state, where the phenomenon began, and one for taking weapons from police in Michoacan state.

The appearance of a new group with "suspiciously sophisticated weapons" and "specially-designed clothing" has caused concern in the western state of Michoacan, reported the Washington Post. Members of the group, which has set up checkpoints on roads in the town of Tepalcatepec, are equipped with assault rifles and professionally-printed T-shirts labelled "Community Police," says the newspaper -- contrasting this to the historic self-defense groups formed of farmers in "muddy boots" carrying pistols and machetes.

Manuel Olivares Hernández, a representative from the Guerreo Network of Civil Organizations for Human Rights criticized one group in the state for arbitrarily detaining two people who had not done anything wrong, in an interview with newspaper La Jornada March 3. "It seems that they are governing themselves under a paramilitary or judicial style, which is being implemented to commit abuses," he said.

Thousands of people marched in support of self-defense groups over the weekend in Guerrero state, reported the Associated Press.

InSight Crime Analysis

The reports of sophisticated weaponry and uniform are a worrying development in the self-defense movement, suggesting a shift towards a more military style of operation. As the groups have multiplied in recent months, there have been increasing fears that Colombia's history, in which citizen vigilante groups morphed into brutal paramilitary organizations, will repeat itself in Mexico. After 25 years, Colombian society realized there was "no greater threat to a country than civil groups who take up arms with a discourse of self-protection," said a recent article about the Mexican movement in magazine Excelsior.

The head of Mexico's Human Rights Commission, Raul Plascencia, warned last month there was a "very thin line between these self-defense organizations and paramilitary groups." Mexico's constitution "categorically establishes that no one can carry out justice for themselves nor use violence to reclaim their rights," said the Commission in a statement.

However the government, has so far adopted a relatively friendly approach to the groups, making arrangements for the handover of detainees and swearing in around 60 ranchers and farmers in Chiapas state as a "Rural Forces Squad." Some regional politicians and members of Congress have called for the groups to be legally recognized.

Monitoring these groups' tactics as their numbers continue to increase is of crucial importance to this debate, and the future security of Mexican citizens. 

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

InSight Crime Special Series

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Los 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.

See entire series »

 

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill

Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

See entire series »

El Salvador's Gang Truce

El Salvador's Gang Truce

The truce between El Salvador's two largest gangs -- the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 -- opens up new possibilities in how to deal with

See entire series »

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.

See entire series »

The Zetas And The Battle For Monterrey

The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime delves into the Zetas' battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

See entire series »

Slavery in Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into modern slavery, looking at how Latin America’s criminal groups traffic human beings and force them to work as slaves.

See entire series »

FARC, Peace and Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, the enemies of the negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the process are high.

See entire series »

Displacement in Latin America

Displacement in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into the new face of displacement in Latin America, where organized criminal groups are expanding and forcing people to flee.

See entire series »

Target: Migrants

Target: Migrants

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers.

See entire series »

Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas in Guatemala

Mexico's Zetas have taken Guatemala by storm, and they are testing this country and the rest of the region: fail this test, and Central America sinks deeper into the abyss.

See entire series »

Most Read

Groups Ask International Criminal Court to Investigate Mexico Military Atrocities

Groups Ask International Criminal Court to Investigate Mexico Military Atrocities

Non-governmental organizations have called on the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed by security forces in Mexico, underscoring the perceived impunity and brutality with which these officials have acted during Mexico's...

Read more

Co-Founder of Mexico's Zetas Leaves Prison

Co-Founder of Mexico's Zetas Leaves Prison

One of the founders of Mexico's Zetas cartel has been released from prison, raising the possibility that he could reassume control of the criminal organization, which has suffered a significant loss of leadership in recent...

Read more

Colombia's 'Green War' Reigniting with Death of Emerald Baron?

Colombia's 'Green War' Reigniting with Death of Emerald Baron?

The death of one of Colombia's most important emerald barons marks the end of an era of relative peace and could usher in another "Green War" as rival clans fight for control of the most...

Read more

Latest Criminal Profile