Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Only the People Can Restore Order"

The armed "vigilante" movement in southern and western Mexico.

Thousands of armed vigilantes have taken over a town in Mexico and arrested police officers after their 'commander' was killed and dumped in the street.

The self described 'community police' and arrested 12 officers and the town's former director of public security, who they accuse of taking part in the killing of Guadalupe Quinones Carbajal, 28, on behalf of a local organised crime group. The 1,500-strong force has also set up improvised checkpoints on the major road running through Tierra Colorado, which connects the capital Mexico City to Acapulco, a coastal city popular with tourists less than 40 miles away.

The takeover comes amid a growing movement of 'self defence' groups in the region, which claim to be fighting against drug cartels.

The Tierra Colorado vigilantes have also been searching people's homes and are reported to have seized drugs from some properties.

The arrested former security official and police officers have been handed over to state prosecutors, who agreed to investigate their alleged links to organised crime.

The group's 'commander' Carbajal's body had been found dumped in the street in a nearby town on Monday.

The force's spokesman, Bruno Placido Valerio, said: 'We have besieged the municipality, because here criminals operate with impunity in broad daylight, in view of municipal authorities.

'We have detained the director of public security because he is involved with criminals and he knows who killed our commander.'

One of those arrested by the group was Juan R. Escudero,police chief of the municipality. The vigilantes are part of regional umbrella group Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State. The Union is made up of residents in Tierra Colorado, as well as neighbouring towns such as Ayutla de los Libres, Teconoapa and San Marcos.

In January, hundreds of armed vigilantes made a series of arrests and imposed curfews in Ayutla de los Libres and Teconoap.

They also manned checkpoints and claimed they had arrested at least 30 suspected criminals. One of the masked vigilantes said: 'They kill, extort, rape. You do [sic] know if they are drugs dealers, thugs, who want to grab everything.

'We want to return peace and tranquility to the entire population. Only the people can restore order.'

If a government fails in its primary duty to protect its citizens, vigilante movements will always spring up. The wise government will seize the opportunity to purge its ranks of the corrupt and the inept and re-assume its duty, at which point the vigilantes usually disband. The unwise government will try and suppress the vigilantes rather than work with them.

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