HomeNewsBriefMexico Vigilante Hit on Mayor a Challenge to State Authority
BRIEF

Mexico Vigilante Hit on Mayor a Challenge to State Authority

MEXICO / 2 APR 2014 BY SETH ROBBINS EN

A vigilante leader in Mexico has been accused of ordering the murder of a mayor who opposed having self-defense militias in his town, in a sign that in some areas these groups now consider themselves to be the real authority and thus above the law.

Authorities arrested Enrique Hernandez Salcedo, the leader of a self-defense group in Yurecuaro, in the western Pacific state of Michoacan, for the killing of Gustavo Garibay, the mayor of the small nearby town of Tanhuato, reported El Universal. In addition to Hernandez, police detained 18 members of his self-defense group, three of whom have confessed to carrying out the murder.

Garibay was gunned down in front of his home March 22 by heavily armed assailants, according to La Jornada.

Alfredo Castillo, Michoacan's security commissioner, said the gunmen claimed they were following instructions from their leader, Hernandez, and that preliminary investigations show Garibay was killed because he "had refused to maintain and repeatedly rejected the presence of vigilantes in his municipality."

Hernandez handed over the guns used in the crime and tried to pin the murder on a former member of the group, but messages recovered on a cell phone, coupled with the confessions of the militia members, connected him to the mayor’s death, said authorities.

InSight Crime Analysis

For more than a year, self-defense militias in Michoacan have been fighting the Knights Templar drug cartel, but there have been increasing signs the vigilante movement has gotten out of control. The latest case indicates the groups feel they are the de facto authority and have the right to administer "justice" as they see fit.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Vigilantes

Despite the Mexican government implementing a legal framework in January to give these groups a facade of legitimacy, recent events have led to mounting tensions between state authorities and the vigilantes. The arrest of Hernandez comes shortly after the arrest of another vigilante leader, Hipolito Mora, for the murder of fellow vigilantes. High-level self-defense militia members have also been accused of criminal backgrounds and cartel ties.

As similar experiments in Colombia, Guatemala and Peru have shown, the legalization of homegrown paramilitary groups tends to end badly.

While the self-defense militias may be successfully combating their Knights Templar adversaries, who have suffered a number of recent blows to their top leadership, the brazen killing of a local mayor is a bloody reminder of the vigilantes' power and criminal potential. If the Knights were to fall, it is not inconceivable elements from these militias could step in to take their place.

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

EL CHAPO / 15 AUG 2017

A US judge has refused to rule out the possibility that the defense lawyers looking to represent Mexico's most…

MEXICO / 18 FEB 2013

The Mexican Supreme Court has overturned Sinaloa state's ban on "narcocorridos," folk songs about the exploits of drug traffickers, which…

COCAINE / 25 NOV 2019

The dismantling of an international drug trafficking organization led by a powerful Mexican cartel is yet another example of how…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…