HomeNewsBriefMexico Launches Official Vigilante Unit in Rocky Legalization Process
BRIEF

Mexico Launches Official Vigilante Unit in Rocky Legalization Process

MEXICO / 13 MAY 2014 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER AND JAMES BARGENT EN

Hundreds of vigilantes have joined Mexico's new "Rural Defense Force" as part of a move to legalize self-defense militas, creating a potentially critical rift between militias prepared to be absorbed by the state and the many more that remain outside the law.

On May 11, the state of Michoacan's security commissioner, Alfredo Castillo, officially launched the "State Rural Defense Force" with the creation of a 450-strong unit made up of members of the state's self-defense militias, reported El Universal.

Among the first officers of the new force, which officials presented with arms, uniforms and vehicles, was the new official spokesperson for the General Council of Michoacan Self-Defense Forces, Estanislao Beltran, alias "Papa Smurf."

Beltran told reporters, "We are legal now and we are committed to this, we are part of the government."

The new force will begin operating in the municipalities of Tepalcatepec and Buena Vista Tomatlan, with the scheme slated to be later rolled out across the state.

Over 3,000 of an estimated 20,000 members of the self-defense militias applied to join the new force ahead of the registration deadline, although many did not pass exams or basic training.

Animal Politico reported that among the new recruits there was uncertainty over what their role was to be, and over other issues such as pay, benefits and working hours and conditions.

InSight Crime Analysis

The launch of the first Rural Defense Force marks the implementation of an agreement between vigilante groups and the government signed in Janaury this year.

The pact was an attempt by the government to get a grip on a situation that had rapidly spiraled out of control, and to strike a balance between helping citizens fight back against organized crime -- which they claimed they were doing as a result of state failings -- and preventing unchecked vigilante justice.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's Security Dilema: Michoacan's Militias

There are numerous obstacles facing the Rural Defense Force strategy in this regard, including the lack of clear definitions over members' roles and relationship to state forces, and their long term place in regional security structures.

However, perhaps the greatest concern is the thousands of militiamen who remain outside the process. Some of these already work for militias believed to be linked to criminal groups, and even those that do not could be tempted to abuse or profit from their power, or work for criminal interests, now that they stand on the wrong side of the line drawn by the government.

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

COVID AND CRIME / 3 NOV 2021

One of the most sought-after destinations in all of Latin America, the Caribbean resort town of Tulum is now the…

EL MENCHO / 14 MAY 2021

In some regions of Mexico, family members who came up empty-handed this Mother's Day were bailed out by the Jalisco…

BRAZIL / 7 OCT 2022

Latin America's environmental and land protectors are routinely murdered by the regions criminals.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…

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…