Mexico vigilantes battle cartels

Styling themselves as ‘self-defence groups’, militias in the state of Michoacan are battling powerful drug cartels.

In Mexico, a country home to powerful drug cartels, groups of armed vigilantes known as “fuerzas autodefensas”, or self-defence groups, have formed in the past year. In recent weeks, they have even taken over communities in the state of Michoacan; in one case surrounding a city thought to be a key stronghold for the Knights Templar cartel and taking over nearby towns after violent street clashes.

In these newly occupied towns the citizen militia have disarmed and detained local police, claiming that both police and government forces are corrupt and in league with the cartels.

Mexico’s drug war has wreaked havoc on the country, bringing staggering levels of crime and violence. These civilians, armed with AK-47s, have been fighting back in what they see as a bid to liberate the country.


On December 29, Manuel Mirel – the leader of the Michoacan militia – harangued people in Churumuco after his forces took the town.



The militias advanced through the streets of Paracuaro on January 4.



The militias have detained people they suspect of involvement with the drug cartels.


Many members of the militias are armed with rifles and semi-automatic weapons.


Militia members in the town of Paracuaro on January 6.


This truck bears the logo of one of the militia groups.


On January 10, the leader of the militia made a speech in the church square to explain to the people of Antunez the goal of their presence in the town.


Vigilantes advanced on Antunez on January 11.


On January 11, vigilantes detained three teenagers after they stole a car from a journalist. They were allegedly working for the Templar cartel as “punteros”, or watchers, and had set fire to two trucks on the road to Antunez.


The Knights Templar set up a roadblock by burning trucks and buses in order to slow the advance of vigilantes on Antunez.


On January 11, as the militia advanced on Antunez, smoke from a roadblock set up by the cartel filled the air.


The militia awaited the signal from their leader to move towards Nueva Italia on January 12.


Fighting between vigilantes and the Templar cartel raged for more than three hours on January 12 in downtown Nueva Italia before the




Source : Al jazeera

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