Mexico Legalizes Vigilante Groups

From Yahoo News and AP:

mexican vigilante

Mexico essentially legalized the country’s growing “self-defense” groups Monday, while also announcing that security forces had captured one of the four top leaders of the Knights Templar drug cartel, which the vigilante groups have been fighting for the last year.

The government said it had reached an agreement with vigilante leaders to incorporate the armed civilian groups into old and largely forgotten quasi-military units called the Rural Defense Corps. Vigilante groups estimate their numbers at 20,000 men under arms.

The twin announcements may help the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto find a way out of an embarrassing situation in the western state of Michoacan, where vigilantes began rising up last February against the Knights Templar reign of terror and extortion after police and troops failed to stop the abuses.

“The self-defense forces will become institutionalized, when they are integrated into the Rural Defense Corps,” the Interior Department said in a statement. Police and soldiers already largely tolerate, and in some cases even work with, the vigilantes, many of whom are armed with assault rifles that civilians are not allowed to carry.

Vigilante leaders will have to submit a list of their members to the Defense Department, and the army will apparently oversee the groups, which the government said “will be temporary.” They will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they register them with the army.

The military will give the groups “all the means necessary for communications, operations and movement,” according to the agreement.

The vigilante leaders, who include farmers, ranchers and some professionals, gathered Monday to discuss the agreement, but it was not yet clear for them what it would imply. It wasn’t known if the army would offer anyone salaries.

Misael Gonzalez, a leader of the self-defense force in the town of Coalcoman, said leaders had accepted the government proposal. But the nuts-and-bolts “are still not well defined,” he added. “We won’t start working on the mechanisms until tomorrow.”

Vigilante leader Hipolito Mora said in a television interview that the agreement also allows those who qualify to join local police forces. “The majority of us want to get into the police … I never imagined myself dressed as a policeman, but the situation is driving me to put on a uniform.”

Latin America has been bruised by experiences with quasi-military forces, with such tolerated or legally recognized groups being blamed for rights abuses in Guatemala and Colombia in the past.

While the cartel may be on its way out, “there shouldn’t be abuses by those who come after, there shouldn’t be what we would call a witch hunt; there should be reconciliation,” said the Rev. Javier Cortes, part of a team of priests in the Roman Catholic diocese of Apatzingan who have publicly denounced abuses by the Knights Templar.

Before dawn on Monday, soldiers and police arrested one of the cartel’s top leaders, Dionicio Loya Plancarte, alias “El Tio,” or The Uncle.

National Public Safety System secretary Monte Rubido said the feared drug lord was arrested without a shot being fired. He said federal forces found Loya Plancarte in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, “hiding in a closet” and accompanied only by 16-year-old boy.

The 58-year-old Loya Plancarte had a 30-million peso ($2.25 million) reward on his head from the Mexican government for drug, organized crime and money-laundering charges. He was considered one of the country’s three dozen most-wanted drug lords in the late 2000s.

The Knights Templar ruled many parts of Michoacan with an iron fist, demanding extortion payments from businesses, farmers and workers, but the self-defense groups have gained ground against the cartel in recent months. Federal police and army troops were dispatched to bring peace to the troubled region, but the vigilantes have demanded the arrest of the cartel’s major leaders before they lay down their guns.

Ramon Contreras, an activist in the vigilante movement from the town of La Ruana, which was the first to rise up against the Knights Templar, said the arrest “means a lot” to the vigilantes, but added that they won’t rest until they see all the top bosses arrested.

mexican police

Contreras voiced a common belief that the man who founded the cartel under the name La Familia Michoacana, Nazario Moreno, alias “El Chayo,” is still alive, despite the government’s statement in 2010 that he had been killed in a shootout with federal forces.

“He’s still alive; there’s proof he’s still alive,” Contreras said.

Loya Plancarte got his nickname, “The Uncle,” because he is believed to be the uncle of another top Knights Templar leader, Enrique Plancarte Solis.

Loya Plancarte joined Plancarte Solis and Servando Gomez in forming the Knights Templar after the purported death of Nazario Moreno.

A local journalist from Michoacan recounted watching when Loya Plancarte led a sort of pilgrimage to a shrine erected to Nazario Moreno and had his assistants hand out 500-peso ($37) bills to people who attended.

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Kudos to these citizens who took the initiative to help their military and police forces who have been overpowered by the cartels for years. It’s also commendable that the government acknowledged they needed help and saw fit to legalize these guys.

The cartels have been overpowering police forces in border towns with mass shootings, hangings and decapitations. At times, it’s been so bad that people refused the job of policeman and cities went months with no law enforcement in place.

Between the corruption in the government and the size of the cartels, these men have taken on a dangerous role. In addition to that, they could draw the anger of Eric Holder. If they take out the cartels, who’s left to help with his gun and drug running operations?

~Kathy

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11 Responses to Mexico Legalizes Vigilante Groups

  1. CW says:

    I agree, Kathy. While it may not be ideal, this is what happens when there are inept and/or corrupt governments who can’t or won’t do their job. The Obama administration will probably denounce it but they would be wise to pay attention.

    • Kathy says:

      True, it’s not ideal, but it is people getting involved in their own security. We haven’t seen the likes of this for over 200 years. Perhaps we should take heed.

  2. Buck says:

    Yeah. Well, the government is going to step in and before long the vigilantes will be as ineffective as the rest of the Mexican government…

    • Kathy says:

      I’d have to disagree with you on this one, Buck. Once the ordinary people get involved, I think it ramps it up a notch. They mean business, and they’re tired of getting run over and feeling threatened. A lesson we could learn.

  3. bullright says:

    Very interesting, We,ve heard about none of this before or the Knights Templar cartel. (speaking for myself anyway)

    • Kathy says:

      Maybe you’re too far north to get this kind of news, Bullright, but we folks down here near the border hear this sort of thing almost on a daily basis.

      These cartels are just about on the same level as terrorists, and it’s good that the people have taken a stand and that they’re armed.

  4. Hardnox says:

    Great story Kathy.

    Kudos to the Mexicans. It’s about time Mexicans stood up against tyranny. We did it here 240 years ago. They can do it too. Further, it appears that we’ll need to take a page out of their playbook since our government now resembles theirs.

    Maybe they can light a spark in the hearts of Americans by their example.

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks, ‘Nox. Once this news gets out and the cartels realize the people are armed and ready for them, the battle becomes even. Being armed and legalized empowers the ordinary people, and that takes a lot of aggression away from the cartels.

      We could learn here.

  5. upaces88 says:

    What is even more amazing IS “THEY ARE BEING SUCCESSFUL”!!
    I have been saying this a long time. Those people “infiltrate our country” when they should stay in their country and straighten out that damn mess!!

    The police and the Mexican Military are all part of the problem…they have been taking $ for years and years to turn their backs as the Cartels have taken over!

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, they are being successful, and it appears the police/government are paying attention, unlike our own.

      The vigilantes have flushed out some of the corruption and continue to do so. That’s a good thing since we’re going to need that space after the rest of the illegals finish crossing the border. Mexico will be clean and empty, then we can move south to start our new country where the weather is nice and warm, hehe.

  6. Buck says:

    Nope. The government is registering their guns. Next thing they’ll swoop down and grab them.