Men detained and wounded by the "justicieros"

A self-defense group in Mexico has turned to social media to boast about its members' efforts to take justice into their own hands, a reminder of the complex role social media plays in Latin America's security landscape.

A video from the "Justicieros de Irapuato," as the group is known on their Facebook page, recently surfaced showing the group advertising themselves as citizens who "take matters [of justice] into their own hands," Proceso reported.

In the video, the self-proclaimed "justicieros," or justice seekers, have detained and cut the ears of two young men thought to be thieves. The suspected thieves are holding a sign that says, "This is what's going to happen to all the rapist and extortionist rats."

The justicieros deny being hitmen for any organized crime group and claim to be simple working people, according to Proceso.

The justicieros go on to call for monetary support from the community members of Irapuato, a town in Mexico's central state of Guanajuato, claiming that the duties they perform for the community are "very expensive."

So far the video has been viewed more than 53,000 times and the group's Facebook page has garnered more than 4,300 likes.

Ignacio Pérez Ruiz, a prosecutor in Irapuato, told Proceso that an investigation has been launched in conjunction with the Attorney General's Office and federal authorities to find out who belongs to the group and the specific activities in which they are involved.

InSight Crime Analysis

Social media has assumed an important role for vigilante groups in Mexico looking to promote their work and seek out new recruits. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow these groups to quickly and inexpensively broadcast their message to huge numbers of people, as evidenced by the fact that the video posted by Irapuato's justicieros garnered more than 53,000 views in just a day.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Mexico Vigilantes

Sometimes, however, criminal groups use social media for more than just self-promotion. For example, InSight Crime reported in 2012 that Mexican drug cartels were using social media sites to spy on recruits and obtain information on their family members to be used if they tried to desert. And in two gang-related murders allegedly involving the MS13 in the US states of Virginia and Maryland earlier this year, authorities say that the victims were lured through social media.

In response to the increasing use of social media by crime groups, authorities have also attempted to use these platforms to carry out their duties. For example, authorities in Mexico have used photos posted on social media to track the movements and activities of drug lords and their families. And in Chicago, after the city's high homicide rate garnered national attention in 2012, the city implemented a network analysis tool where authorities mapped the relationships of the city's 14,000 most active gang members in order to rank how likely those individuals were to be involved in a homicide as a victim or offender.

Investigations

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

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

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. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...