HomeNewsBriefMexico's Vigilante Movement Reaching Breaking Point
BRIEF

Mexico's Vigilante Movement Reaching Breaking Point

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 17 MAR 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

The arrest of a top vigilante leader in Michoacan has sparked tensions between the self-defense movement and Mexico's government, and internal disputes and alleged criminal infiltration are causing growing concern over the government's decision to try and legitimize the militias. 

In a video published on YouTube (see below), Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde, a prominent self-defense movement leader in Michoacan, said the government's "repression" of the vigilantes showed they were "exercising their power for different ends than they had reason to."

Mireles' comments were sparked by the March 11 arrest of Hipolito Mora, the head of the vigilantes in the town of La Ruana, who was accused of murdering a local farmer and a rival vigilante member who formerly belonged to the group's enemies in the Knights Templar.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

"A week ago, the commissioner sat down with Hipolito, and he didn't know anything about any accusations. Three days later, Hipolito is a criminal. How sad," said Mireles.

Mora is also being investigated on 35 other charges. Various locals have also accused his group of robbing their lands on the pretext they were Knights Templar members, reported El Universal.

Nonetheless, the vigilante spokesman said they did not wish to break ties with the government.

InSight Crime Analysis

The self-defense movement appears to have reached a critical moment. Mora's arrest comes amid escalating tensions among the leadership and growing concern about the shady connections of senior figures in the militias.

Even before Mora's arrest, he had been driven out of La Ruana in an armed confrontation with a militia led by a rival, Luis Antonio Torres, alias "El Americano," with both sides launching accusations against each other of involvement with the Knights Templar.

The situation has been further complicated by investigations into the pasts of the vigilantes. Reforma reported how various leaders have a criminal history: Mireles has a criminal record for trafficking marijuana; El Americano is accused of running a cartel known as "H3" in Buenavista; and another leader, Juan Jose Farias Alvarez, is believed to be a leader of the Milenio Cartel.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Mexico Vigilantes

Not for the first time, the vigilantes have now placed Mexico's government in a bind. Less than two months ago, authorities created a legal framework giving the self-defense groups a measure of legitimacy. The government now has to decide whether to continue backing groups accused of criminal ties and murder, while the militias themselves may break off ties if more leaders are arrested.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

INFOGRAPHICS / 30 NOV 2010

InSight Crime maps where Mexican authorities have found mass graves in Mexico since the beginning of 2010. …

MEXICO / 8 SEP 2012

The Mexican government says the shooting of several CIA agents by Federal Police last month may have been an accident…

MEXICO / 27 MAY 2020

Two municipal police officers, Omar Nieves and Noemí Esperanza, were on routine patrol, sitting in traffic in broad daylight on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…