HomeNewsBriefRebel Vigilante Militia Seizes Mexico Town in Threat to Legalization
BRIEF

Rebel Vigilante Militia Seizes Mexico Town in Threat to Legalization

MEXICO / 27 JUN 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY AND JAMES BARGENT EN

A militia led by ousted vigilante leader Jose Manuel Mireles has seized a town near the port of Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan as divisions in the self-defense movement threaten to derail moves to legitimize the groups, and create a new cycle of chaos in the southwestern state.

On June 26, around 300 armed vigilantes led by Jose Manuel Mireles — the former spokesman of the General Council of the Michoacan Self-Defense Forces — took over the town of La Mira an hour outside of Lazaro Cardenas, reported El Diario.

The group did not include members of the recently institutionalized “State Rural Defense Forces.” Mireles told El Diario he had decided to advance because “the government doesn’t act while Michoacan remains in flames.”

Mireles also stated the federal government had only created rural defense units in two municipalities, with 34 remaining for the vigilantes to protect. 

According to El Proceso, Mireles said the group’s goal was to establish a citizen self-defense council in La Mira and then move on to Lazaro Cardenas and the city of Morelia. One of the group’s leaders said they had come to La Mira at the request of local citizens and had not encountered resistance from security forces or criminal groups on the way into town.    

InSight Crime Analysis

Moves to legalize Michoacan’s self-defense forces, which were originally created in Michoacan to fight the Knights Templar cartel, have exacerbated tensions in the movement’s leadership by creating a clear dividing line between those involved in the new Rural Defense Forces and those left on the outside.

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

Mireles has been at the center of much of the controversy after he was removed from his position as spokesman for the militia’s leadership council, with rivals claiming he was in an unstable mental state. The fact Mireles is now leading a large armed force in offensive actions is a clear statement of intent that he does not plan to back down and cede the movement to the leadership that has joined the state forces, and he now poses a significant threat to the legalization plans.

The choice of La Mira was a significant one; a day before the legalization deadline 155 people were arrested and accused of being “false” vigilantes — 122 of them in La Mira — in what was likely an attempt to halt the activities of militias not part of the legalization process. According to Proceso, Mireles has declared the arrested people “innocent civilians” and is working towards their release.

Even more of a concern is his stated plans to march on Lazaro Cardenas — a strategic port that was a former stronghold of the Knights Templar and a key territory for controlling criminal activities in Michoacan.

Michoacan’s security commissioner officially launched the rural defense forces in May, but only roughly 3,000 of the estimated 20,000 vigilantes applied to join the force before the registration deadline, meaning the chances of further rebel militias continuing to operate remains high.    

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 2 FEB 2011

(With permission from the Center for Public Integrity.) Camron Scott Galloway, 21, walked into X Caliber Guns in…

GULF CARTEL / 24 NOV 2020

Officials in Mexico City have launched a new program which will seek to impede criminal networks from recruiting minors across…

MEXICO / 5 NOV 2012

Mexican crime analyst Alejandro Hope takes a look at Mexico's recently released National Addiction Survey, what it says…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…