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
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...