HomeNewsBriefMexico Joint Op Security Forces - Vigilantes Leads to Arrests, Questions
BRIEF

Mexico Joint Op Security Forces - Vigilantes Leads to Arrests, Questions

MEXICO / 10 FEB 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Mexico's so-called "self-defense" groups have participated in their first major joint operation with state security forces, making numerous arrests in the Michoacan capital of Apatzingan. Some vigilantes were unarmed, others armed, and their exact mandate is still unclear.

On February 8, an unarmed contingent of vigilantes accompanied by federal security forces raided houses in Apatzingan, while a separate group of heavily armed self-defense forces guarded the outskirts of the town, reported AFP. A total of 14 alleged drug traffickers were arrested during the joint operation, among them Antonio Magaña Pantoja, the cousin of Knights Templar leader Enrique Plancarte, alias "Kike," reported EFE.

The following day, an armed and hooded group of vigilantes paraded through the town accompanied by police and soldiers, reported AFP.

Alfredo Castillo, Michoacan's security and development commissioner, told El Universal the operation leading to the captures was the "first real and clear manifestation" of cooperation between vigilantes and the state under the new legal framework established last month. One vigilante leader announced plans to do the same in all 113 municipalities of the state, though this has not been confirmed by officials, reported CNN.

Meanwhile, concerns remain over the Knights' capacity to retaliate, with the group apparently threatening to detonate explosives in the town center of Apatzingan unless the offensive against them is called off, reported La Mañana.

InSight Crime Analysis

The operation is the first indication of what may come under the broad legal framework outlined by the government January 27. It provides for cooperation between state security forces and vigilantes, which will be incorporated into what are tentatively called "Rural Defense Units." It also requires them to register all members and firearms. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Mexico Vigilantes

However, it is still unclear what the self-defense groups' mandate is, and if the vigilantes will remain content with being subsumed into a government structure that failed them in the past and was a principal cause for their uprising.

Concerns have been raised about the paramilitary precedent in other countries in the region, and what could happen if the self-defense forces -- which possess high-caliber weapons and have refused to hand in unauthorized arms -- decide to expand beyond the remit afforded to them by the state. 

These questions will likely become prominent, as the conflict appears set to continue for some time. Just last week, four beheadings possibly connected to the Knights Templar, provided an indication of the carnage that may come.

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

GUATEMALA / 23 SEP 2021

The Jalisco Cartel New Generation, which has rapidly expanded to become Mexico's greatest criminal threat, may now be spreading its…

HOMICIDES / 4 MAR 2022

Makeshift bombs and grenade launchers are now being used in battles between cartels and Mexico’s security forces in an alarming…

ARGENTINA / 1 FEB 2022

In 2021, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a marked increase in murders. Resurgent violence was to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…