Vigilantes in Michoacan

Mexico nationals living in the United States are helping fund the country's ever-growing self-defense militias, while recent gruesome murders indicate the internal armed conflict will not be calming down any time soon.

According to Fusion TV, Mexican immigrants living in California have sent up to $250,000 in the past three months to vigilante groups in Michoacan, bolstering their ongoing battle against the Knights Templar criminal organization. The news follows a recent LA Times report that some US-based Mexican nationals have returned to their homeland to join the vigilantes.

Fundraisers interviewed by Fusion said the money does not go towards acquiring weapons; it is used for humanitarian aid, essential supplies and financial support for widows of the conflict, as well as assisting with the medical costs of a vigilante leader hurt in a plane crash.

This news comes as reports emerge of a possible violent backlash from the Knights Templar, who have been under severe pressure from vigilantes and state security forces. Various media reports have indicated the recent discovery of four severed heads in an indigenous settlement in Michoacan may be linked to the group. However, AFP reported the heads were found with a note indicating the decapitations were the work of Knights Templar opponents.

InSight Crime Analysis

Reports that Mexicans living in the United States are sending large quantities of money to the vigilantes emphasizes the popularity these groups enjoy in the regions where they operate. Years of corruption, alleged collusion with organized crime, and ineffectiveness in fighting criminal groups has destroyed people's faith in local law enforcement and recent related violence led the national government to send in state forces to restore order.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Knights Templar

While this latest report demonstrates the support enjoyed by the vigilantes, it is also another worrying sign of their growing power. As the government has moved to place these groups in a legal framework, analysts and academics have called for caution based on concerns they could evolve into dangerous paramilitary forces. The recent revelation that mining companies pay these groups for protection also echoes the path trodden by Colombia's paramilitaries, which received protection fees from oil companies. 

The apparent attempt by the Knights Templar to reassert themselves following the arrests of important leaders suggests the worst of the conflict is yet to come, and with the vigilantes receiving financial backing from various sides, the question remains whether the government can keep them in check if the violence escalates.  

Investigations

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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

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...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

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.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.