HomeNewsBriefMexico Vigilantes Force Gang Members to Sweep Town Plaza
BRIEF

Mexico Vigilantes Force Gang Members to Sweep Town Plaza

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 21 MAY 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

A Mexican vigilante group reportedly forced eight teenagers to sweep a town plaza in punishment for working for criminal organization the Knights Templar, some indication of how the volunteer security forces in small towns are going about distributing justice. 

As El Universal reports, the teens were accused of working as look-outs for the Knights Templar in Tierra Caliente, Michoacan, population 10,000. The town's vigilante force also forced the teens to wear white t-shirts while sweeping, printed with declarations such as, "This is my punishment for being a hitman," and, "Out with the Templars." 

According to El Universal, the volunteer security enforcers were first organized by businessmen in Tierra Caliente who were tired of being extorted by criminal groups. The town's economy rotates around lumber production, and businesses were expected to pay 80 pesos (about $6.50) for every cubic meter of wood which they handled. Ranchers, meanwhile, were expected to pay up to two pesos (about 16 cents) per kilo for every animal they sold. 

On May 15, the vigilante force temporarily took over the Tierra Caliente town hall in a demonstration of their strength. One vigilante leader told El Universal that in revenge for doing so, drug traffickers burned down several of the town's woodmills. 

InSight Crime Analysis

El Universal's report sheds light on some of the pressures faced by small businesses in areas of Mexico where organized criminal groups are the de facto authority -- and helps explain why these communities may be driven to form grassroot defense groups. In recent months, towns across Michoacan and Guerrero have seen the rise of vigilante forces who have pledged to defend their communities from organized crime, even as some authorities have accused the vigilantes of being criminals themselves. 

The vigilantes in Tierra Caliente would not be the first organization to use symbolic punishments as a way of exerting order. The Knights Templar have allegedly used crucifixion as a way to "enforce the law" in rural Michoacan. 

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

HUMAN RIGHTS / 29 JUN 2022

As many as 50 migrants have been found dead inside a truck 150 miles north of the US-Mexico border.

JALISCO CARTEL / 6 MAY 2021

Every few years, a new spectacular tactic used by criminal groups captures the world’s attention. But like the narco-tank seen…

MEXICO / 1 MAR 2021

An investigation into a criminal group, led by Romanians based in Mexico and specialized in ATM skimming and credit card…

About InSight Crime

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,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.