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

VENEZUELA / 17 JUN 2015

Criminal groups are reportedly terrorizing a Venezuela highway that runs through so-called "peace zones," in an ironic manifestation of how…

HOMICIDES / 30 DEC 2013

In an unsolicited response to what is a typical portrayal of violence in Mexico, Mexican security researcher, analyst and professor…

KIDNAPPING / 28 JUN 2011

A Catholic priest and rights activist claimed that at least 80 migrants were abducted from a north-bound train by armed…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.