Mexican Vigilantes Create Gang-Free Zones

Sunday, 03 Feb 2013 01:06 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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MEXICO CITY — Vigilante justice appears to be cutting crime in Mexico's remote villages, with militia groups standing guard on rural roads and arresting drug traffickers that have terrorized the countryside for years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
 
“We brought order back to a place where there had been chaos,” one militia group leader, identified by compatriots as Gonzalo Torres, told the Journal. “We were able to do in 15 days what the government was not able to do in years.”

Militia groups are standing guard outside villages in Mexico, forbidding strangers from entering, and enforcing curfews as they arrest people accused of being in drug gangs.

Residents say crime has dropped dramatically, but a few townspeople in one of the villages — Ayutla — have told stories of being arrested and held captive for more than a week before being determined innocent.

Vigilantes are also fighting crime in other parts of Mexico, especially along the border, where mobs have lynched drug traffickers and shot their associates.

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Some government officials welcome the militia groups, with even local police — fearing organized-crime retribution — leaving patrolling and police work to the militias.
 
High crime rates have traditionally plagued Mexico's villages.

But organized crime added a new dimension to the violence, and kidnappings and extortions have grown as a result. Often, arrests weren't made for the most violent murders, the Journal reported.
 
Vigilantes are now taking control of the villages, forbidding state and federal authorities from entering, and suspending school classes until gang leaders are locked up, according to the Journal.

But the militias are also sometimes arresting people who have not committed crimes, a pitfall that can occur.

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