View Full Version : Mexican citizens militia take on cartel and police who protect them

David Guyatt
01-17-2014, 09:09 AM
Now there's a thought.

Mexico’s last line of defence: The militia taking on the country's drug cartels... and the police officers protecting them


A vigilante militia is marching on the stronghold of The Knights Templar cartel in Michoacan, and attacking the police they accuse of protecting the gang. Can they rescue the failing state?

PAUL IMISON (http://www.independent.co.uk/search/simple.do?destinationSectionUniqueName=search&publicationName=ind&pageLength=5&startDay=1&startMonth=1&startYear=2010&useSectionFilter=true&useHideArticle=true&searchString=byline_text:(%22Paul%20Imison%22)&displaySearchString=Paul%20Imison)

Thursday 16 January 2014

A convoy of pick-up trucks carrying more than 100 armed civilians descended on the small town of Nueva Italia in Michoacan, a largely rural state in south-west Mexico, this week. Equipped with bulletproof vests and automatic weapons, the group surrounded the main plaza and eventually took control of the town, exchanging fire with gunmen and local police they accused of representing The Knights Templar, an organised crime syndicate that has become a de facto authority in much of the state.

“They shot at us from two locations and the clash lasted around an hour and a half,” Jaime Ortiz, a 47-year-old farmer belonging to the militia, told the French news agency AFP, claiming that two of his comrades were wounded in the confrontation.
The militia, which describes itself as a “self-defence” group trying to protect citizens from The Knights Templar, has been advancing through southern Michoacan for several weeks en route to the city of Apatzingan, believed to be the stronghold of the syndicate. Members of the militia, which currently occupies more than a dozen towns throughout the state, have fought gun battles with local police officers whom, along with state governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, they accuse of protecting the gang.
One resident of the state, who did not wish to be named, told The Independent: “I would say the authorities in Michoacan have long lost the right to claim they are protecting their citizens. I don’t like to see people picking up arms, I deplore violence; but we have very little confidence in the police forces under the control of the Michoacan government.”
The country’s Interior Minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, has demanded that the militia disarms and withdraws from the area. He announced the deployment of additional forces to the region, including the Federal Police and military personnel, to temporarily replace local and state police.
But Hipolito Mora, one of its leaders, said the group has no intention of disarming, and the movement would continue until leading members of The Knights Templar and their accomplices were arrested. On Tuesday, federal forces entered Apatzingan and maintain a military presence there. The Knights Templar, reportedly led by a man named Servando Gomez Martinez, aka “La Tuta”, emerged in 2010 after a split within a paramilitary defence group-turned-organised crime syndicate known as The Michoacan Family. The group participates in dozens of illicit activities from drug trafficking to illegal mining. The state has been gripped by armed conflict and a military presence ever since. Nearly 1,000 people were murdered in Michoacan in 2013.
Attacks on her family, headless animals being sent to her home and several death threats: A sure sign Anabel Hernandez is the woman the Mexican drug barons fear (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/attacks-on-her-family-headless-animals-being-sent-to-her-home-and-several-death-threats-a-sure-sign-anabel-hernandez-is-the-woman-the-mexican-drug-barons-fear-8824947.html)
Civilian defence groups have been common in Michoacan for years. Some of the groups hail from semi-autonomous indigenous communities, many of which have long maintained their own police forces. Others operate without the permission of local governments. Some speculate whether the self-defence alliance in Michoacan has been infiltrated by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a rival of The Knights Templar.
Michoacan has long been wracked by corruption scandals and accusations of official complicity with organised crime. Ahead of local elections in 2011, as many as 50 candidates across the state withdrew because of threats.
The recent confrontations are the latest flashpoints in Mexico’s so-called “drug war”, an armed struggle between rival criminal groups and security forces that began in the 1990s and intensified after former president Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown in 2007.
Enrique Pena Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, took office in December 2012 and promised a more streamlined, intelligence-based approach to fighting crime. Nevertheless, in 2013, Mexico saw over 17,000 murders, a figure roughly in line with the murder rate under Calderon and twice the rate under Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox.
Dr Edgardo Buscaglia, president of the Citizens’ Action Institute in Mexico, who has studied the proliferation of armed groups in the country, believes that the confrontations in Michoacan are a consequence of the institutional vacuums that have permitted corruption and organised crime to flourish.
“I have no doubt that some of the community defence groups you see in Michoacan are legitimate,” he told The Independent. “But you also have groups financed by businesspeople, groups financed by municipal governments, and groups funded by rival criminal organisations.
“There are pockets of Mexico that resemble a failed state, and Michoacan is one of them,” he added. “Sending the armed forces to tackle a problem that is fundamentally caused by corruption and the lack of reliable public institutions is counterproductive. You have a weak and fragmented state in Mexico that does not have the institutional capacity to root out corruption, or provide security.”
One of the principal leaders of the self-defence movement in Michoacan, Dr Jose Manuel Mireles, a medical doctor from the town of Tepalcatepec, was rushed to hospital on Saturday after the light aircraft he was travelling in was forced to make an emergency landing, killing one passenger and injuring four others.
It has not yet been confirmed if the incident was an attempt on his life. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Magda Hassan
01-18-2014, 07:19 AM



Magda Hassan
02-21-2014, 11:55 AM
Bring Us The Heads Of The Knights Templar By Antonio Castillo


Organised vigilante groups in Michoacán, Mexico, have had success in driving out a major drug cartel and their police colluders. Their victory is part of Mexico's DNA, writes Antonio Castillo

If the state either abuses or fails to protect them, Mexicans look to history for solutions. Sometimes they take matters into their own hands. A year ago they did so when Mexico’s self-defence paramilitary forces reclaimed a large part of Michoacán from Los Caballeros Templarios, the country’s newest drug cartel.
Michoacán was, as historian Enrique Krauze reminds us, the site of the Mexican wars of the 19th and 20th centuries: the War of Independence, the War of Reform, the French Invasion, the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero War. Now it is the epicentre of the drug war.
Michoacán, in the country's southwest, is one of Mexico’s wealthiest and most beautiful states. It's also the most violent. Since 2010 it has been under the control of the so-called Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), the newest drug cartel formed by a splinter group of La Familia (The Family), a pseudo-religious criminal group that in 2006 forced out the Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels.
http://www.agenciasubversiones.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/IMG_2716.jpgMembers of Por Un Aquila Libre (For a Free Aquila), one of the vigilante groups.

Some sectors of the international media have wrongfully described the self-defence groups — vigilantes — as a new phenomenon in Mexico. Actually, they're nothing new. Self-defence armed groups have existed for centuries, and are responses to the abuses of the financial, political and criminal powers. They belong to the past as well as contemporary Mexican history.
Three years ago, indigenous people from Cherán, also in Michoacán, decided to battle illegal logging and drug violence by kicking out the police and running the town according to indigenous tradition. And 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, the self-defence indigenous movement that restored order and self-determination in Chiapas. As one Mexican writer described it, “self-defence is in the DNA of our people.”
Last year, in February 2013, the people of Michoacán said basta! - enough of the drug cartels and also enough of Mexico’s institutional inability to protect them. A year ago — when the temperature reached an average of 32 degrees in Tierra Calientes, a region that extends some areas of the states of Michoacán, Guerrero and Estado de Mexico — the self-defence movement arose once again from the annals of Mexico’s history.
Mexico’s self-defence organisations have an illustrious history. José Doroteo Arango Arámbula - better known by his pseudonym of Pancho Villa — is perhaps the embodiment of the tradition. Exhausted by the abuses of the powerful and the rein of impunity — his 14-year-old sister was raped by the owner of the ranch where they lived and worked — he took matters into his own hands. He killed the rancher and headed to the mountains where he formed a peasant self-defence organisation that would come to play a key role in the Mexican Revolution.
First with modest rifles and now with sophisticated weaponry today, self-defence organisations have recovered a large part of Michoacán from the drug cartels and have removed the local political elite and the chiefs of police, most of them corrupt and in collusion with criminals.
As Patricio Asfura-Heim and Ralph H. Espach wrote (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139462/patricio-asfura-heim-and-ralph-h-espach/the-rise-of-mexicos-self-defense-forces) in Foreign Affairs:

"Mexico has suffered staggering levels of violence and crime during the country’s seven-year-long war against the cartels. The fighting has killed 90,000 people so far, a death toll larger, as of this writing, than that of the civil war in Syria. Homicide rates have tripled since 2007.”
Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto is getting anxious. Mexico is embroiled in a three-pronged civil conflict; the state against the cartels, the cartels against other cartels, and now self-defence organisations against the cartels. A four-pronged conflict is not a far-fetched scenario, the state against the self-defence organisations in an attempt to disarm them.
In the last few months, Peña Nieto has gone on the offensive. He visited Michoacán and announced — last December — that the federal government, having struggled to defeat the cartels using corrupt local police and an inadequate military, would create an elite national police force of 10,000 officers by the end of 2014.
However, he has failed so far to domesticate the vigilantes. Peña Nieto has been forced to yield to the demands of the self-defence leadership. In a scene reminiscent of the 1974 Sam Peckinpah US cult film, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, they have demanded the head of Servando Gómez Martínez’s, nicknamed La Tuta (the Teacher), the brutal leader of the Knights Tempar. If Peña Nieto can’t oblige, the vigilantes won’t hand over their weapons.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Q1CzyteAotE/UgafnhX9OkI/AAAAAAAAE7k/H2u4gHMNhus/s1600/Nuevo+Comunicado+de+Servando+G%C3%B3mez+Mart%C3%AD nez,+-La+Tuta-+jefe+de+los+Caballeros+Templarios+-+YouTube.pngLa Tuta and his Knights Templar.

The success of the vigilantes so far is not insignificant. They have not only made the Templars retreat from Michoacán, but have forced the Mexican government to pour an unprecedented level of financial assistance into the state. Peña Nieto has said his government would invest the equivalent of about $3.4 billion in social and infrastructure programs for the besieged state.
Peña Nieto is also reaching back into Mexico's history to prevent an escalation of the conflict. He is following the path of two great Mexican presidents, Benito Juarez and Porfirio Díaz, who in the last decades of the 19th century incorporated the numerous self-defence organisations into the legal sphere. They became known as Guardias Rurales (Rural Guards) and became key actors in the post-revolution pacification of the country.
Despair and impunity are perhaps the two words that best explain the reappearance of self–defence groups in Mexico today. Nonetheless, in a country where every half hour somebody is murdered, and the expansion of cemeteries has become a highly lucrative business, the pacification of the country seems to be a long way off.


David Guyatt
03-10-2014, 11:21 AM
It must be nice to have a government that is so corrupt and venal that even the villains despair?

Well, so much for the UK.

But today we stop for a thought about Mehico, the land of tequila, tacos and the "taking out" of unwanted rivals.

Mexican drug lord 'The Craziest One' shot dead a second time

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez was announced dead by the Mexican government in 2010, but his body was not found

KASHMIRA GANDER (http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/kashmira-gander)http://www.independent.co.uk/skins/ind/images/plus.png
Monday 10 March 2014

One of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords was shot and killed on Sunday morning, despite the Government announcing he was dead four years ago.

The head of the criminal investigation unit for the federal Attorney General's Office confirmed that Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, the leader of the Knights Templar Cartel, was killed in an early-morning shooutout with troops.
Nicknamed El Mas Loco or 'The Craziest One’, Moreno was thought to have died following a two-day gunbattle with federal police in December 2010 in his home state of Michoacan, but no body was found at the time.
The 43-year-old, who would have turned 44 on Saturday, had been tracked by the Mexican military before they confronted him in the remote town of Timbuscatio.
Officials said the troops fired in response to “aggression” as they tried to make an arrest.
Alejandro Rubido, security spokesman for President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration, said that despite the December 2010 announcement that Moreno had been killed, national government officials taking over Michoacan, where the drug lord's La Familia cartel was based, heard reports in January that he was alive.
“Anonymous tips indicated that Nazario Moreno was not only living, but continued operating at the head of a criminal group conducting extortion, kidnapping and other crimes,” Rubido said, adding that at the time of his first reported death, he had committed multiple murders.
http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article9180830.ece/ALTERNATES/w460/fingerprints.jpgThe alleged fingerprints of Nazario Moreno
In 2010, the government of then-President Felipe Calderon officially declared that Moreno was dead and there was proof, but some residents of Michoacan had reported seeing Moreno since then.
La Familia was the first target of Calderon's assault on Mexican drug trafficking, and he touted Moreno's death and his dismantling of the cartel as a victory.
However, after Moreno's supposed 2010 death, La Familia Michoacana grew stronger and became the more vicious and powerful Knights Templar, and became a major trafficker of methamphetamine to the US.
Calderon was not immediately available for comment.
The hunt spiked last year as anti-Moreno vigilantes took up arms against the Knights Templar.
“This is a victory,” said Hipolito Mora, one of the leaders of the groups whose rise caused Pena Nieto's administration to act. “He did a lot of damage to the people of Michoacan.”
Moreno's killing follows the capture of Mexico's most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who surrendered when marines raided his condo in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan last month.