Following attacks against student protesters in Mexico’s Guerrero state, a guerrilla group has declared war on the Guerreros Unidos criminal organization, a move that could further complicate an already tenuous security situation.
In an online communique dated October 6, guerrilla group the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army (ERPI) called on members and the community at large to form a “popular justice brigade” to fight the Guerreros Unidos. In the statement, which ERPI also read in a video, the guerrilla group said their call to create a brigade was in response to the murders and disappearances of student protesters on September 26, which have been attributed to the Guerreros Unidos.
ERPI also asked for information on Guerrero Unidos members, properties and interests, and accused a faction of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) of complicity in the killings and disappearances.
Another prominent guerrilla group, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), has also released a statement condemning the attacks.
InSight Crime Analysis
The potential involvement of guerrilla groups in the battle against Mexico’s drug cartels could exacerbate the country’s security problems by adding yet another illegal armed actor to a panorama already filled with drug cartels, local gangs, and vigilante forces. This is especially true in Guerrero, where the Guerreros Unidos, Knights Templar, and Los Rojos criminal groups are all fighting for control of drug trafficking routes, and self-defense forces dedicated to combatting these groups have clashed with security forces.
The ERPI’s call to create a special force to fight the Guerreros Unidos appears to be a response to a specific incident, rather than an announcement of their wider involvement in Mexico’s drug war. Jose Antonio Ortega, the head of NGO the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, recently called on authorities to investigate whether the attack on student protesters was intended to send a message to the ERPI and other guerrilla groups. He said the college students belonged to had ideological and political ties to guerrilla groups, and that leftist rebels were seen as enemies by drug trafficking organizations.
However, the ERPI has previously been linked to self-defense forces in Guerrero, raising the possibility that the guerrilla group’s involvement in the fight against drug cartels may go further than this most recent announcement.
SEE ALSO: EPR Profile
The ERPI was previously a faction of the EPR, but broke away in the late 1990s and is now primarily based in Guerrero. According to declassified security documents accessed by 24 Horas, the group has lost some of its operational capacity in recent years, but authorities still consider it a security threat.