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Spiraling cartel violence in Mexican state of Guerrero forces citizens to take up arms, establish roadblocks

May 31, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Spiraling cartel violence in Mexican state of Guerrero forces citizens to take up arms, establish roadblocks Proceso

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Citizens in the Mexican state of Guerrero are so sick of the bloodshed that’s occurring in the region that they are taking up arms to defend themselves from cartels.

Men from 10 towns around Mezcala, a flourishing area for gold mining, have launched a new vigilante group to protect their loved ones and the mines.

“So many kidnappings, so much extortion, we are tired; we have demanded support from the government,” one of the vigilantes said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. He noted that the government is not listening to them, saying: “We want peace, and this is why we are taking arms to defend our families.”

Citizens take up arms in Guerrero, Mexico’s most violent state

In their first public move on Sunday, a group of 100 men in white shirts decorated with the name “Community Police” established a roadblock and a checkpoint on the road connecting the town of Iguala to the capital of Chilpancingo, which then moves toward the popular tourist area of Acapulco.

The men concealed their faces with baseball caps, sunglasses or bandanas and armed themselves with rifles and shotguns, and blocked the street for roughly an hour and a half, Newsweek reported.

Reacting to the vigilantism, officials said they understood the self-defense group. A municipal spokesperson, Roberto Alvarez, said that the group should recognize that they are working outside the law and pushed for coordination with local police.

However, he acknowledged that self-defense groups had been established because of “the presence of criminal groups and the absence of a municipal police that guarantees a constant presence which is currently nonexistent.”

Civilian defense groups have implemented roadblocks in Guererro to try and stem the raging cartel violence

The Guerrero state is the battlefield for two rival drug factions, the Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos, who are fighting for control of drug trafficking territories and extort cash from the mine owners.

The new vigilante crew in Guerrero had already gained the support of another organization that was launched three weeks ago in the municipality of Heliodoro Castillo, one of the country’s centers of opium growth and production.

Groups of armed citizens aren’t a new phenomenon in Mexico, but they have significantly grown in recent years, with some self-defense groups having as many as 7,000 members and are experiencing successes against the notorious Knights Templar cartel.

The decade-long battle against drug cartels in Mexico has turned the country into the world’s second-deadliest battle zone in 2016, a global survey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported; however, the Mexican government opposed the research.

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