Hundreds of citizens in Mexico have formed vigilante groups in an effort to help control crime. The vigilantes, adorned in ski masks and carrying weapons, are working together to decrease crime and fear in their towns.
The towns of Ayutla des los Libres and Teconoapa in southwestern Mexico have the largest numbers of citizen vigilante groups. There are reportedly around 800 members in those town towns alone.
One of the vigilantes, speaking to Press-Telegram, explained why the citizen led patrols are necessary:
“They kill, extort, rape. You do not know if they are drug dealers, thugs, who want to grab everything. We want to return peace and tranquility to the entire population. Only the people can restore order.”
Many of the vigilante groups’ members have had their lives directly impacted by crime and violence. The men feel that local law enforcement has not been effective in fighting the devastating crime. Residents felt compelled to join together and defend themselves and their families against the increasing numbers of drug gangs.
As detailed by Fox News, the patrols are not sanctioned by local law enforcement or the court system. The vigilante groups set up road blocks and check identification against a list of known gang members.
Representatives of the group stress that they are not trying to stop the distribution of drugs. The see drug trafficking as a way to make money; for some it is the only way. Their main concern is the violence associated with drug trafficking.
Residents are thankful for the intervention. The vigilante groups, according to one resident, “have done something that the army and state and federal police haven’t been able to do in years.”