Numerous Mexican vigilante groups have cropped up in some of the regions currently experiencing an upsurge in violence. In the southern areas of Guerrero, citizen police groups that have mounted roadblocks on major highways in a bid to fight back against drug cartels and gang violence. An increase in drug cartel-related crimes has led to an increase in reported cases of kidnappings, extortion, and killings in Guerrero.
In the past year, the area has seen an unprecedented 2,318 homicides. The groups keep an eye on susceptible areas in the town for suspicious persons and activity, roadblocks, and clandestine prisons. According to a report by ABC News, the men mostly carry rifles and are unable to match the firepower and funding that major drug cartels possess. As such, there is always the risk of cartel infiltration.
Just a few years ago, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel was accused of infiltrating vigilante groups focused on taking on the Knights Templar, consequently bringing it down. This was an apparent strategy to isolate the organization from the community. The CJNG is also alleged to have collaborated with the authorities, leading to the capture of the Knights Templar’s leaders.
In some cases, drug cartels go against the vigilantes. Such was a recent incident in Guerrero that led to the death of Daniel Julio Julio, a 22-year-old who had joined the local militia.
Clashes between various vigilante groups can also occur, with deadly results. In a recently reported incident involving La Parota dam near Acapulco, 11 people died after a clash between vigilante groups: one against the proposed dam project and the other comprised of locals who wanted it realized.
Six locals lost their lives, while two men from the anti-dam group were killed. A police raid led to the deaths of three more members of the anti-dam group, as reported by the New York Times.
In the past, the Mexican government has viewed vigilante groups with skepticism and asked them to disband. Groups that do not wish to do so have at times been allowed to join the regional police force as “rural police.” They have also been allowed to keep their guns so long as they are registered with the army.