HOUSTON, Texas–As violence and cartel activity is becoming increasingly common near the border, citizen vigilante groups in Mexico–armed with rifles and machetes–are attempting to curb the crime on their own.
The citizens, who come from all walks of life, formed the vigilante groups because they feel their government has failed to control violence in Mexico. Others accuse the Mexican government of being infiltrated by cartels.
The rise in vigilante groups comes amid the revelation that Mexico’s homicide rate has tripled since 2007, according to the Latino Post. During that time, there were allegedly more than 100,000 cartel-related deaths.
“Pick up a paper or flip on the news, and the horrors of the drug wars are splayed across headlines,” the Latino Post reported. “Warnings of decapitations and kidnappings, or tales of the horrors of cartel crime in Mexico are all too real, especially for the residents who must live out the carnage.”
In 2013, vigilante groups became prominent when they fought against the violent Knights Templars; they did so because Mexican authorities failed to protect citizens. More recently, deadly gun battles between cartel members and government forces have been plaguing the Mexican state of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, near the Texas border.
Sylvia Longmire, a Breitbart Texas Contributing Editor and border security expert, said, “The rise of vigilante groups in Mexico in response to cartel violence is a situation that will almost always end badly. The state of Michoacán is a prime example, where militias rose up almost two years ago in response to an increase in murders and kidnappings by the Knights Templar cartel. While these militias in Michoacán and neighboring Guerrero state initially met with some success in driving cartel members out of certain towns, the militias themselves started becoming a threat as they were slowly infiltrated by rival cartel members and corruption started to take hold.”
In May Breitbart Texas reported that the Mexican government armed a select group of citizens, officially recognizing them as the Rural Police Force. Subsequently, however, vigilantes who did not join the new force began resisting the Mexican government’s effort to demobilize them.
Despite efforts by Mexican President Enrique Peno Nieto to diminish the armed citizens, their numbers and passion are growing.
Longmire said, “Even though the Mexican government brought some of these vigilante groups into the semi-official fold, that plan backfired on them after a few months when the vigilantes refused to disarm as planned. Basically, these groups offer an attractive short-term solution, but often end up doing more harm than good in the long-term.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.