HomeNewsBriefMexico Vigilante Leader Arrested, Conflict with Govt Intensifies
BRIEF

Mexico Vigilante Leader Arrested, Conflict with Govt Intensifies

MEXICO / 30 JUN 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Protests have erupted in Mexico in response to the arrest of vigilante leader Jose Manuel Mireles after he led the takeover of a Michoacan town, as the rift between the authorities and the remaining illegal militias deepens and tensions build.

On June 27, Mireles was arrested in Michoacan for allegedly violating a federal firearm and explosives law, reported El Proceso. He was detained along with 69 other vigilantes in a joint operation carried out by several government agencies, the federal police, and the Attorney General's Office. 

In response, self-defense militias set up barriers at several points along a coastal highway and vowed to maintain the blockades until Mireles and other captured vigilantes were freed, reported Vanguardia. They also expressed outrage that Mireles had been arrested, while Servando Gomez Martinez, alias "La Tuta," the leader of the Knights Templar cartel the militias formed to fight, remains at large.       

Michoacan's security commissioner, Alfredo Castillo, stated that all armed civilians in the state who are not part of the Rural Defense Forces -- new units set up to formally legalize the militias under the state's umbrella -- would be detained. 

Mireles was arrested the day after he led the vigilante takeover of La Mira, a town near the strategic port of Lazaro Cardenas. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The government of Enrique Peña Nieto seems to want it both ways: fierce vigilantes who are also model citizens. And his administration's policy of legalizing a section of the vigilante movement while targeting those that remain on the outside has already begun to backfire. The arrest of Mireles is exacerbating the conflict, with outraged vigilante forces saying they will now take over Lazaro Cardenas in retaliation.

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

Mireles has been a vocal critic of government efforts to combat organized crime in Michoacan and has accused authorities of failing to keep their end of the agreement reached with self-defense militias in January. He has also publically fallen out with vigilante leaders that have joined the state forces, making him a focal point of the dispute.    

If the government is to defuse the situation, it will need to convince the people of Michoacan that it is in their interests to back the Rural Defense Forces and not hold out militias such as the one led by Mireles. However, up until now, there has been little sign of action from the legalized forces, creating the opportunity for Mireles to build support by taking the initiative.

If Mireles manages to garner popular support, while cynicism builds over the institutionalized militias, then his arrest and others like it may further discredit the government and the legalization process in the eyes of the crime weary residents of the state. In other words, more battles may follow.

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 SALVADOR / 15 FEB 2022

MS13 members seeking to escape the gang's strongholds in Central America, or disappear off the radar, often flee to Mexico.

DISPLACEMENT / 2 JUN 2021

The number of displaced people within Mexico has increased for the first time in three years, indicating that the country's…

CHINA AND CRIME / 14 APR 2022

The full threat posed to Mexico's biodiversity by both Mexican and Chinese organized crime networks has been revealed in a…

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…