Tuesday, May 21, 2013



Note: Armed citizens, a nightmare for corrupt governments &
criminals everywhere.
"In the nearby town of Buenavista, many of the masked, lightly
armed self-defense patrol members manning a highway checkpoint said
they welcomed the army _ but vowed to resist any attempts to take
their guns."

Besieged Mexican town cheers arrival of soldiers
Marco Ugarte
Mexican army soldiers enter the town of La Ruana, Michoacan, Mexico,
Monday, May 20, 2013. Residents of western Mexico towns who endured
months besieged by a drug cartel are cheering the arrival of hundreds
of Mexican army troops. A growing number of people in the state of
Michoacan have taken up arms to defend their villages against drug
gangs, a vigilante movement born of frustration at extortion,
killings and kidnappings in a region wracked by violence. (AP Photo/
Marco Ugarte)

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 11:36 pm
Associated Press |

Residents of a western Mexico area who endured months besieged by a
drug cartel cheered the arrival of hundreds of Mexican soldiers Monday.
People in La Ruana in Michoacan state lined the main road to greet
more than a dozen troop transports and heavily armed Humvees with
applause and shouts of joy.
The town's supplies had been blocked after the Knights Templars
cartel declared war on the hamlet. The cartel dominates much of the
state, demanding extortion payments from businessmen and storeowners,
and even low-wage workers.
In February, the town formed self-defense squads to kick the cartel
out, drawing the wrath of the gang. Convoys of cartel gunmen attacked
the town, which was forced to throw up stone barricades and build
guard posts.
Supplies like gasoline, milk and cooking gas began to run low as
cartel gunmen threatened to burn any trucks bringing in goods.
On Monday, hundreds of soldiers moved in, erecting checkpoints on the
highway leading into La Ruana and setting up an operating base in the

"This war has been won!" Hipolito Mora, leader of the self-defense
movement, told hundreds of cheering townspeople gathered along the
main road, including dozens of self-defense patrol members wearing
white T-shirts and carrying shotguns.
Mora said the town had agreed to stop community patrols and let the
army take over security in La Ruana. But he said the community would
keep its weapons and would start patrols again if the army left.
The idea that troops might come in and seize a town's weapons, or
stay only a few weeks, worried people throughout the crime-ridden
area. So in town after town along the main highway through
Michoacan's hot lowlands known as the Tierra Caliente, self-defense
squads welcomed the army's arrival, but vowed to keep their guns.

The highway is littered with the charred hulks of supply trucks, the
smoking remains of burned-out sawmills and the fire-blackened walls
of fruit warehouses set afire by the Knights Templars cartel in
retaliation for the towns' rebellion.

In the nearby town of Buenavista, many of the masked, lightly armed
self-defense patrol members manning a highway checkpoint said they
welcomed the army _ but vowed to resist any attempts to take their guns.

They hung a banner beside the roadway: "Gentlemen of the federal
police and the Mexican army, we would prefer to die at your hands,
than at those of these stupid, stinking scum," it said, referring to
the cartel.

A healthy dose of skepticism remained about the chances of success
for sending the army into Michoacan _ a tactic that then-President
Felipe Calderon used to launch his offensive against drug cartels in
The Michoacan-based Knights Templar is, by all accounts, at least as
strong today as its predecessor cartel, the La Familia gang, was in
2006. Instead of attacking the cartel's strongholds in nearby cities
like Apatzingan, the troops are fighting a sort of rear-guard action,
protecting towns outside the main urban areas without going to the
root of the problem.
Rafael Garcia Zamora, mayor of Coalcoman, a town largely cut off from
the outside world after it formed its own self-defense force last
week, said residents welcomed the arrival of troops, but worried the
force might soon leave again and expose the town to the cartel's wrath.
"We don't doubt their ability," he said of the army. "But we need
them to help us" root out the criminals and not let the cartel
continue to grow.
"The government should have mobilized the army to do this 10 or 12
years ago," Garcia Zamora said.
"We have had temporary raids, with three or four thousand soldiers,
but they come and they leave. And you know what? Every time after
there is a raid, severed heads show up," he said, referring to drug
cartel retaliation against those who help the army.
"People have the courage to speak up, but that has its consequences,"
he said.


Why Vigilante Groups Threaten Mexico's Knights Templar
Written by Patrick Corcoran Monday, 13 May 2013 Media

Knights Templar are looking to consolidate control in Michoacan
Recent reports of fierce fighting between community police groups and
a Mexican gang offer a window into the potential threat of vigilante
groups to organized crime.

As reported by El Universal late last month, members of the Knights
Templar squared off against community vigilante organizations
operating in three cities in the southwestern state of Michoacan:
Buenavista Tomatlan, Tepalcatepec and Apatzingan. The fighting
resulted in at least 14 deaths and an unknown number of wounded.
The groups first made the news in March, when 37 members of the
community police in Buenavista Tomatlan were arrested by the army.
The vigilantes were subsequently accused of taking over the formal
municipal police station, where they were holding the local chief and
five of his officers captive, under suspicion that they were working
with local drug traffickers (presumably the Knights Templar). The
army also confiscated an unknown number of firearms and removed three
highway blockades.
More recently, one of the leaders of the Knights Templar released a
video accusing vigilantes -- called "communitarian police" in the
video -- of killing innocents, and challenged them to a "death
match." (Watch the video below).
InSight Crime Analysis

Such an outbreak of violence reflects the growing tension and
instability stemming from the increased activity of the vigilante
groups. The government has reacted both with attempts to dialogue and
attempts to delegitimize the community groups. Similarly, the
criminal groups threatened by their existence have responded both
with attempts to delegitimize the community groups and with acts of
open confrontation, such as the bloodletting mentioned above. In
short, while both are unsettled, neither the government nor the
criminal groups seem to have settled on the best response to such
community police organizations.
For the criminals, the Knights Templar represent the group most
threatened by the community vigilantes, and the latest incident
reflects an ongoing campaign to push the groups from the scene.
The Knights' efforts have included a multi-faceted public relations
campaign. Last month, a series of messages, often referred to as
narco-mantas, appeared around Michoacan with accusations that the
vigilantes were little more than a front for the Jalisco Cartel--New
Generation (known as the CJNG, for its initials in Spanish), one of
the Knights' local rivals. The mantas, which were addressed to
President Enrique Peña Nieto and appeared in the state's three
largest cities, accused the community police of engaging in
kidnapping and extortion.
The mantas preceded another address to the authorities, as the leader
of the Knights Templar, Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, also released a
video late last month, a day before the round of killings. In the 14-
minute video, Gomez, who over the past several years has periodically
granted interviews to address issues relating to security policy in
Michoacan, called on Peña Nieto to limit the operation of the
community groups. He also accused Fausto Vallejo, Michoacan's
governor and a member of Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary
Party, of ignoring his security responsibilities, leaving space open
for the growth of the vigilantes.
Community security groups have emerged in a number of Mexican states,
but in none have they appeared to conflict so directly with the
interests of established criminal groups as they have in Michoacan.
This reflects something of the unique nature of the Knights Templar
among the larger collection of Mexican criminal groups.
Since the community police have emerged as responses to criminality
and insecurity, friction with local traffickers was inevitable, and
much of the recent conflict in Michoacan stems from the two sides'
irreconcilable interests.
But it goes beyond that. Unlike many of the more established criminal
groups like the Sinaloa Cartel of the Gulf Cartel, which are more
overtly profit-based, the Knights have always painted themselves as
the protectors of the people in Michoacan. They emerged as part of
the Familia Michoacana around 2006, largely in opposition to outside
groups like the Zetas; their victory left the state's underworld in
the hands of local criminals. The group operated under a moral and
quasi-religious veneer, in which they outlawed drug use and
kidnapping. The supposed truth behind all of this is that the Knights
(and their predecessor, the Familia) are different in that they are a
force for good.
The emergence of the community police groups reveals the Knights'
pretensions as empty. If the group's self-identity were genuine,
there would be no need for community groups, because the Knights
alone would be enough to guarantee some modicum of security. Of
course, this is silly; the Knights have intimidated and preyed on the
local population as virtually all criminal groups in Mexico do. The
community groups reflect a popular frustration with the Knights that
is comparable to that of all populations terrorized by criminal
groups. And as long as the two blocs are competing for the same
space, the Knights' assaults of the past month, both in the media and
on the streets, will likely continue.


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