HomeNewsBriefMexico Indigenous Community Takes Police Hostage, After 'Paramilitary' Ambush
BRIEF

Mexico Indigenous Community Takes Police Hostage, After 'Paramilitary' Ambush

MEXICO / 20 APR 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Residents of the town of Cheran in Michoacan, west Mexico, briefly kidnapped 16 police officers to demand an investigation into illegal logging in their community, following a clash between locals and a "paramilitary force" which left eight dead.

Cheran residents say that on April 18, a "community patrol" was ambushed by a criminal group, and at least eight people died in the ensuing struggle. The armed men were reportedly hired by local loggers, who Cheran residents say are destroying the forests that the community depends on.

One community leader told La Jornada, "It was an ambush of paramilitary groups associated with organized crime and the loggers who operate in the region."

In protest, locals held 16 police hostage for less than 24 hours, releasing them on April 19 after a meeting with the Michoacan governor.

Last year, residents imposed a blockade, preventing outsiders from entering the town, amid reports that the Cheran loggers enjoyed protection from the Familia Michoacana drug gang. Residents say they have been threatened and attacked by armed men protecting logging interests since outsiders first began harvesting lumber in the municipality more than two years ago.

InSight Crime Analysis

The government has said it will investigate the deadly ambush and deploy the military and the Federal Police to Cheran. But, even though local leaders in Cheran have said that they want federal and state forces to intervene and stop the illegal logging, there have been reports of residents returning to vigilantism, blocking off the main roads into the town and conducting vehicle searches.

The kidnapping was clearly intended to attract the attention of authorities outside of Michoacan, and it appears to have been successful. But the re-appearance of vigilantism in Cheran is another clear expression of lingering distrust in government forces.

If the Cheran locals are correct, and the ambush was carried out by gunmen hired by loggers, it would represent a new escalation in violence against residents. There has been no official investigation into whether the Familia Michoacana is in fact involved in protecting the wood cutters. In one possible scenario, locals could be claiming that the loggers have links to organized crime in an effort to spur the government into taking action.

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

HOMICIDES / 1 MAY 2021

Mexico has once again dominated a list of the most violent cities in the world but smaller towns have now…

GENDER AND CRIME / 7 JAN 2021

Labor initiatives inside women´s prisons in Latin America aim to improve employment opportunities for female inmates, so as to reduce…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 12 AUG 2021

Mexico's process of criminal fragmentation has been a slow burn. Many of the country's mightiest criminal groups have been unable…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…