Mexico Official Cautions Against Amnesty for Vigilantes

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As plans to pass an amnesty law for Michoacan’s self-defense forces move forward in Mexico, the state’s security commissioner warned that more investigations are needed to prevent criminals from taking advantage of the proposal.

On December 10, Michoacan Security Commissioner Alfredo Castillo stated that before the proposed amnesty law is passed, officials need to investigate the vigilante forces to determine which individuals used the self-defense movement as an excuse to commit crimes, reported Cronica.

“There needs to be a differentiation between those who at the time were fake vigilantes, who tried to fool the authorities, and those who also committed other types of crimes,” Castillo said.

Meanwhile, legislators from Mexico’s opposition parties are trying to form an alliance to pass the law, which the federal government and ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), are opposed to.

InSight Crime Analysis

As Castillo warned, the proposed amnesty law raises the possibility that criminal elements in Michoacan’s self-defense forces could take advantage of the pardon to evade justice. Although the amnesty proposal is based on the assumption that individuals joined the militias to protect their communities, there have been reports of vigilantes joining forces with criminal groups. At the height of the self-defense movement in 2013, federal authorities accused the vigilantes of ties to the Jalisco New Generation cartel, and there have also been reports that former Knights Templar cartel operatives are among the members of the vigilante forces.

SEE ALSO: Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

The amnesty law, which was proposed in September, would pardon more than 380 vigilantes detained in Michoacan between March 7, 2013 and September 1, 2014 who meet certain requirements. One of these requirements is having joined the vigilante groups to protect their families and communities from criminal organizations, but this condition will likely be difficult to prove.

If the law passes, detained vigilante leader Jose Manuel Mireles would most likely be among those to receive amnesty. Mireles’ arrest in June set off a wave of protests, including a movement in which supporters shaved their heads in solidarity following the appearance of a photo showing a bald Mireles in prison. 

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