Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Opopeo "Arms" Itself Against "la Familia"

Friday, February 11, 2011 |

Since 2007 a group of armed men broke into the village to extort and kidnap, and against the inaction of authorities, the community created its own protection system

Opopeo, Mich .- The first scare came here with several trucks without license plates and tinted windows. Out of every vehicle four armed men got out and visited at least 15 furniture makers. It's been three years, when everyone was preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the school in this village. The men, who identified themselves as members of La Familia Michoacana, said they had to "cooperate" because it would provide them protection.

One of the furniture makers recalled the armed men going workshop by workshop, asked for 10,000 pesos, depending on size. "We told them we didn’t even have enough to eat, nor to pay the light." The armed men told them that in the coming days they would hold a meeting on the outskirts of town to discuss the payment of "protection", and left.

That episode changed the history of Opopeo, a community that is located between the cities of Morelia and Uruapan. Today, this town and neighboring communities of Santa Clara del Cobre, San Gregorio, Santa Juana and Tepetate formed a grouped named "“la Resistencia” (The resistance) and each time they are visited by alleged members of La Familia Michoacana they regroup to demand the presence of federal authorities to protect them.

Each week they have meetings. They have sirens at strategic points, stones to block the roads. They have created a "Neighborhood Watch" program that signals the community when a stranger who has nothing to do in the community arrives. If necessary, they will ask them to leave the village.

In case of an emergency, the people organized and ring the bells. In a special ring, thousands of people will gather to demand that the Mexican authorities come to deal with anyone trying to extort them. "We will bring everyone together: couples, elderly, children, and women. How are we going to be slaves to them (capos)? We’re not calling victory; if we are organized it is because of fear, "says a representative of the community

Opopeo, which along with neighboring communities is part of the Meseta Purépecha of Michoacán, is a town full of families who work in wood shops, produce tables, chairs and benches and sale them on the side of the road from Morelia to Uruapan . According to the latest census, nearly 15 000 people engaged in trade, agriculture and furniture industry.

Fear to denounce crimes

Given the situation that exists in Opopeo, nobody wants to give their name, nobody wants to be named. They ask that this be known nationally to see if this helps, but appreciate if they remain anonymous.

"90% of the population feel embarrassed, scared, and much of the time is spent thinking about when it will be our day, our time to go. We dare not complain for fear itself, "says another of the inhabitants. The Human Rights Commission of Michoacán does not have a single complaint of extortion in this entity. Its president, Victor Serrato, says it is for fear, "No one wants to report."

Francisco Marquez Tinoco, a former congressman from that region and Opopeo native, says the fact that the population exceeds the authority could lead to deadly outcomes. "The issue is very delicate, because on one hand they can give a lynching against any offender and on the other; there is a serious risk that the villagers could be killed. There is a serious risk to the population," he says.

Hours after the visit of these men in 2007, villagers took the decision to block the roads to demand the protection of local and federal authorities. A unit of the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) was there a few hours in the community, but left and once again the people were abandon. In the following months the community was visited on two occasions by organized crime. Several furniture makers were beaten and two of them kidnapped.

Armed "Against the Law"

The town was on the downfall, but for the first time in the violent history of Michoacán, fear had managed villagers to create their own system of protection: Opopeo had taken the initiative to arm themselves. The villagers began to buy fire arms for their protection, but last year the army raided houses in search of weapons. "The day after the military came, those people came again (organized crime)," says another resident.

The action of trying to disarm the village did not end the desire of protecting themselves. Today the people have guns to protect their families. "We are armed in the dark, outside the law," they say.

In Santa Juana, one of the villagers was asked by La Familia Michoacana for more than 70 thousand dollars or his child was going to be kidnapped, he says: "They give you 48 hours to four or five days maximum to get the money. Where is someone going to get that? ". He says several of his colleagues have been in the same situation, and that the authorities appear after the damage is done.

The Michoacanos are not challenging the La Familia, we just take simple measures so the federal government values the situation. "We are preparing ourselves for something big, but we hope that nothing happens. We are not against anyone or in favor of anyone; all we want is to live in peace, "says another representative of the community.

It seems that in Opopeo and neighboring communities there is no other options against the onslaughts of the crime. "We the people have the solution. What more would we like for the government or President Felipe Calderon to subdue the mafia, but it cannot be done. The only thing left is to organize to defend ourselves, because it is not only us, it's all over the country, "says a member of the resistance.

"Moreover, we do not know who to be on the lookout for or who we will encounter, we do not even know who to talk to. On the other hand, they know us pretty well, "says one of his companions.

In one of the wooden workshops of Opopeo a mother shows how all her children work making chairs. There are more than eight. Her family has been threatened by La Familia Michoacana. "How can I leave my children without food for giving money to these men? I have anger. What I want is for those people to show their face, because according to them they help the people, then why do they ask money from us?

Sources: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/183320.html

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21 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

i thought LFM said they dont extort,

Anonymous said...

Remember the old movies "The seven Sameri" and "The Magnificent Seven" What has happened here is a model for Mexican citizens to pull their country out of the toilet. Imagine if thete was cooperation with local responsible(people who have a vested interest in a functioning country)and the Military maby the kidnapping, car theft,robbery, protection, could stop, If latinos need to make money off of US drug users I don't care.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans need the right to bear arms, these are the people that need guns.

''lito'brito said...

i would support doing a flyover and dropping military supplys to these people..guns , ammo..claymores, body armor...whatever it takes for them to train and support a militia to defend their town..

also negotiate a most favored trading status treaty with them to bolster their economy...

oh how i would rather buy from these folks than be forced by my countrys idiotic trade policys to have to buy shoddy shit from the godless chinese

to hell with giving any more money to the gob de Mexico ..and 3 billion a year to israel..

how about a little aid to the brave deserving people like this for a change

Anonymous said...

JUST LEGALIZE AND REGULATE DRUGS ALREADY, SO THEY CAN GO AFTER EXTORTIONISTS AND AND KIDNAPPERS!!! ONCE THEY LEGALIZE IT THOUGH, THERE WILL HAVE BEEN A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT DIED IN VAIN......BUT I GUESS THATS HOW LIFE IS......IT'S A WAR OF LOST CAUSES!!! SALUDOS DESDE JUARITOS A TODA LA GENTE DEL BB!!!

Gerardo said...

Saludos a todo Juaritos, cuidense Raza

Layla2 said...

RE: "The villagers began to buy fire arms for their protection, but last year THE ARMY RAIDED HOUSES IN SEARCH OF WEAPONS. "The day after the military came, those people came again(organized crime)," says another resident."

Protecting themselves may be the only way to resist the violence, extortion and corruption perpertrated on citizens in Mexico. This is the reason villages, towns, cities (or neighborhoods within cities) must follow their lead. When the Military cannot be trusted--which is the reason people pay legitimate taxes, FOR PROTECTION--What's the alternative?

The fact that "the population exceeds the authority could lead to deadly outcomes..because on one hand they can give a lynching against any offender and..there is a serious risk that the villagers could be killed.." says Francisco Marquez Tinoco, a former congressman.

How could the situation become worse? The organized criminals will drive them out of business and steal what is left of their property, then probably kill them anyway. Is this the situation Mr. Tinoco wants as an alternative?

IT MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK ABOUT THEIR TRUE MOTIVES.

May this resistance spread throughout Mexico. If the US wants to help, they should start with helping the people overcome these situations--not giving over money BLINDLY to the government.

I agree with "L"B--airdrop what they need to defend themselves. AND I would rather buy goods from legitimate businesses in Mexico than the communist countries in Asia too!

Never confuse La Resistencia with organized crime. They seem to be the only groups forming that are consistently fighting against it; to take back their towns and property.

Anonymous said...

If you want peace, prepare for war.

Mexican goverment needs to be taken down and these things needs to be encouraged. Its the only way to solve the problem when the government has failed.

Gallina Desplumada said...

Layla2, haven't you noticed? There are no communist countries (except North Korea perhaps???... though their semi religious feudalism is not really that really) in Asia today. They all are on the capitalist road already.

I agree with "L"B--airdrop what they need to defend themselves. AND I would rather buy goods from legitimate businesses in Mexico than the communist countries in Asia too!

For some people it seems to take them a long time to begin to catch up with current reality. Oh well... Keep trying!

Anonymous said...

In Mexico there are many corrupted people! as there are honest onest, but if you don't comply you get killed. Ignorance plays a big role in Mexico too. Hopefully my country where I was born someday they will pass the death penalty, we will see how loyalty plays a big part! and fuck the catholic religion, because it plays a huge role in Mexican affairs. I hope that they expell it from any kind of governmental affair, we will see! then we can get going with our progress of restructuring Mexico.

Anonymous said...

dam so LA FAMILIA turning into Zetas now? Thought they werent down harming n extorting there own people

Layla2 said...

Although this certainly seems to be off point, since you criticized my knowledge, here goes:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded on July 1, 1921 in Shanghai, China. After 28 years of struggle, the CPC finally won victory of "new-democratic revolution" and founded the People's Republic of China in 1949. The CPC is the ruling party of mainland China (P.R. China).

AND government dictatorship, by whatever name you wish to call them, always hold the will of the STATE over their citizens, effectively making the citizens subordinate to the state. The terms are many..statism, communism, facism, dictatorship of the prolateriat...these countries are not based on freedom of the individual. Period.

''lito'brito said...

@ layla

i don't wonder at their true motives

they are the same old motives the gob de Mexico has always had

keep the people defenseless, the elites of Mexico fear an armed uprising by the people more than anything else

as well they probably should after the way they have treated the common Mexican citizen

Mexico touts their history of not engaging in foreign adventurism, as the USA has done...and it is true...because the Mexican army exists primarily to ride herd on their own population...the army in Mexico is much more feared than it is respected..plus the spartan pay encourages the soldados to engage in plunder to augment their pay

another state failure for the gob de Mexico

Mexicans have a lot of personal freedoms that we don't have in the USA..but one they don't have is the freedom to feel safe in their own homes...

Buela said...

SORRY! this is bullshit. I almost did not read the post because the headline was not too interesting...but glad I did. SO the army goes door to door looking for "ünlawful" weapons? Come on folks does anyone REALLY believe that? anyone in Mexico?

For the 100th time... IN ARTICLE 10 OF THE MEXICAN CONSTITUION (1917?) CITIZENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, TO DEFEND THEMSELVES....look it up...google it...do something other than reading a blog to become informed.

ok...now air drop? your kidding ...right?

I have no clue why furniture makers are targets for extortion but they are..my furniture maker had his two sons kidnapped 3 years ago. He and his family paid the ransom after it was lowered 4 times. the boys were split up into two safe houses. one boy was rescued after a neighbor reported suspicious activites. the other child was never found. The furniture maker, his brother and various fam left town.

''lito'brito said...

hey B
it wouldn't be the first time a government violated it's constitution..especially the Mexican government

and yeah air drop..why not ..does article 10 specify where they get the guns?

Anonymous said...

Buela, why would do you think that people don't defend themselves.??? Is it the fear factor???

Buela said...

Yes...the must sumbit a app as we do, and buy the guns only from the army. everything goes thru them. it is not difficult and freinds say it takes about 4-6 weeks of processing. Brito this is one time the constitution holds. Even us americans can bring weapons into Mx, we have to go thru paper work. Many American hunters bring their guns into Mx. I think I will become a "hunter" jaja just kidding.

@ 4:11
I wondered this for years, I thought it was fear, some said economics but I never bought that. but what is now becoming more known is that they prefer the caliber of weapons that are not on the approved list...9MM etc. However, it appears more folks are arming themselves in border states and state of high violence.

''lito'brito said...

@ B

hmm..very interesting...you are putting out some good info..ok..

yeah ...i am all for doing some varmint hunting along the south side of the river ...and opps ..sorry i didn't see that hombre with an ak hiding behind that escalade...sorry guy

so just suppose an American accidently shot a guy on the Mexican side of the river and no one seen him do it...what do you think would happen?..

just wondering?

''lito'brito said...

a 9 mm is just about the sorriest round ever invented ...get a 45 ..or if you cant afford any thing else ..an sks carbine is a good gun..

i don't reccomend the big pekker banana clip...the sk is not designed for that rate of fire...and the thing is clumsy and snaggy...but you can get a 15 round stationary clip ...and with stripper clips you can pack a whole lot more ammo...

the sk actually shoots a little harder and is a tad more accurate than the ak..also if you want to get a pistol grip stock you can have a short gun..they make an sk paratrooper that is the cutest little gun you ever saw ...

i have the sk with the bayonet that doubles as a dipole rest with the military issue scope, 15 rd clip ,stock extension, and 1000 rds of russian military issue ammo .. but anyway..god bless America and pass the ammunition



erny ..don't even start buddy

B said...

jeeze Briiiito...I can't write a book her I just gave one caliber your 45 was on the list I said "etc"

Anonymous said...

Bravo

Your town is doing it exactly right. I would suggest that weapons that are not legal be left in "drop" spots where they can be used if necessary but belong to no one when the military does weapons checks.

If more mexican towns would follow your lead, you would take your country back. The Police, Army and forgin intervention is not the solution. Mexican people are the solution doing exactly what you are doing!!!

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