Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A photographer hung out with vigilantes in Mexico's most dangerous state. Here's what she saw.

Posted by DD Republished from Washington Post By Kenneth Dickerman

Community police” vigilante Rene Zeferino rides in the back of a pickup as his unit patrols the streets of Ayutla de los Libres, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
News of violence and corruption emanating from Mexico is nothing new. And there is possibly nowhere more violent and corrupt than the state of Guerrero. Not only are there rival drug gangs vying over territory used to make heroin, but police are often seen as corrupt, too. According to Reuters, Police were accused of participating in the disappearance of 43 teachers college students in Guerrero in 2014. Indeed, violence and corruption are so bad that, according to Reuters, “it is not uncommon for state, federal and military forces to replace local security forces suspected of corruption and ties to Mexico’s powerful gangs.”

Upset with all of this violence and corruption, some people in Guerrero have banded together to form “citizen police” groups to protect their communities. Mark Stevenson of the Associated Press describes these groups as being “vigilante outfits with no allegiance — and often outright hostility — to elected authorities. They are grass-roots attempts by locals to rein in lawlessness in some of the areas most racked by killings, kidnappings, extortion and other malfeasance.” Not surprisingly, the job can be dangerous, even fatal, but not only for the vigilantes; ordinary civilians have also been killed. For example, Stevenson notes, “Alexis Estrada Asencio, a 17-year-old bull-riding enthusiast, and five other citizens were killed in La Concepcion on Jan. 7 in a confused gunfight between vigilante forces and other townsfolk over a dispute of a proposed hydroelectric dam near Acapulco.”

Associated Press photographer Rebecca Blackwell went to Guerrero to document how some of these vigilante groups operate. Here’s what she encountered:
Relatives of six civilians allegedly killed by vigilantes ride home carrying photographs of their deceased loved ones in La Concepcion. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Children walk past a vigilante in Ayutla de los Libres. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
A vigilante sits on guard with his weapon and radio outside his force’s base in Buenavista de la Salud. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
A vigilante counts rifle bullets in Buenavista de la Salud. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Vigilantes search the trunk of a taxi at an impromptu roadblock on the outskirts of Ayutla de los Libres. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
wo prisoners are escorted back to their cell at the “community police” station in Xaltianguis. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Prisoner Marcelo Ramirez Bolanos, left, cries as he is interrogated about a kidnapping and robbery by a vigilante in Xaltianguis. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
A baby peers up from her stroller at an armed vigilante in Xaltianguis. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
A relative comforts Maribel Julio Meneses during the wake for her son Daniel Julio, a vigilante in the village of Huamuchapa. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
A family member adjusts an altar set up in honor of Alexis Estrada Asencio in La Concepcion. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Vigilantes stand guard on the roof of the force’s base in Buenavista de la Salud, (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Vigilantes gather around a campfire just after dawn as they pass a cold night outside their base in Buenavista de la Salud. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Vigilantes inspect a bar in Ayutla de los Libres. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Crosses and flowers mark the spot where four members of a “community police” force died near Rincon de la Via.


  1. Vigilante or Autodefensa?

    1. Corrupt or not is the issue and that often depends upon one's vantage point.

    2. The auto defensas and community guards try to keep order in their communities and greedy business and developers out, but they have fewer resources andEssex training and get persecuted by police and military and paramilitary VIGILANTES murdering them every chance they get.
      La Parota is dedicated to power generation, will make a few billionaires many times over, but they can not offer ANYTHING to the inhabitants and owners of the communal lands they want to depopulate other than let them escape alive to Mexico city maybe to sell roasted pumpkin seeds or authentic mexican artesanies made in China.
      Vigilantes is a term applied to criminals, that was never used to describe MAO TSE TUNG'S RED GUARDS, Ho Chi Minh's vietminh or vietcong, or the Russian bolshevik's or hitler's jüghend.
      Vigilantes protect their homelands from runaway slaves and catch them to return to their legal owners, and help protect land grabs, they are well financed and never prosecuted, unlike Comandanta Nestora Salgado, who arrested the vigilante police commander and his police force,
      The persons attacking the inhabitants of La Parota are imported criminals and the government of guerrero is in cahoots with the businessmen attacking those "opposed to progress" for the rich at their poor expense,
      --foreign corrupt reporters that do not watch their language smell like shit, and want to walk their employers' goals home on tragic photos of their own victims survivors.

    3. there is a big difference. Autodefensa is a legal term in Mexico to define those indigenous peoples who aregiven certain constitutional rights to govern and protect themselves. Incl the use of weapons. where the law is fuzzy is when autodefensas organize and travel to different municipalities with weapons to assist each other.

      Another issue is who is considered indigenous. Generally those defining themselves as indigenous people must have 50% direct bloodline. however even that as been a point of argument.

      10:32 I agree with that vigilantism is applied to criminals and law breakers who have no legal right to govern themselves.

      I would have NOT use the term in this headline. It is demeaning to the people who organize to protect themselves.

      And...for the record,,,the gro autodefensas and citizen policia have been organized for decades. They were instrumental in helping with the search for the normalistas and in the process found dozens of clandestine graves.

      American news refuses to make a distinction. One VERY famous journalist I asked why he doesn't use the correct term, afterall he knows the difference living in Mx. He said he would take too much to educate Americans the difference.

      Yep...true story

      autodefensas are organized union and are in 14 states. they meet once a year at different locations and have been in existence for well over one hundred years

    4. Because there's not really an appropriate translation for it in either the English language or American/Western culture.

      In America, vigilante isn't necessarily a negative word. In fact, in the correct context, it's a positive term. Just like auto-defense.

    5. NY Subway vigilante and George Zimmerman or the border vigilantes or the Klu-Klux-Klan have their own particle brand of vigilantism...
      The Wackos that killed FBI raiders in Waco were vigilant of their compound, protecting their child rapist leader, and time McVeigh was vigilant until he dropped his truck on the front of the Murray building in Oklahoma, then he dropped his guard.
      All these criminals were no autodefensas, and I swear no Mexican autodefensas sas go around committing crimes or collecting Plaza or Piso fees, you have to pass your examinations, be trustworthy and make it through boot camp in the Mexican army or marinas and be good to the presidente.

  2. When the town south of Cocula had the attempted kidnapping of the mine workers by LaFamMich and the local autodefensas communitarios ran off the bad people, catching one, and beating that one to the next world, the towns people pitched in and paid the ransom to get the three kidnapped back. In the village were I was about so many km away, the local autodefensas abandoned their posts on the outskirts of town. Something isn't right. Glad to see someone attempt to inform the world, though it appears that they have an agenda also.

  3. Autodefensas is needed, only be with trusted compadres, forget the ones that will infiltrate and tell everything to cartel. I have AR-15, well cleaned and lubed so it won't jam, 10 30 round clips. I will shoot, if those mfkrs mess and hurt our town.

    1. You go show them, Rambo.

    2. hmmmm interesting tell me more about these "clips" that your ar15 uses.

    3. @10:34PM To be fair, a lot of people refer to rifle magazines as "clips". It's used often enough to be considered accepted slang, even if there are just as many people that can't stand its use.


    4. 1024 clips is another word for magazines. But then your going to say what are magazines. They also call them banana clips. Then your going to say what are banana clips. Just Google it Mijo.

    5. clips refer to the old M1 garand - was a clip holding bullets that got ejected with a "ping" when the bullets were expended.
      Magazines are what are used to hold bullets now. Any shooter with any training has that taught to them day 1, along with the explanation I just gave you.

      Yes, lots of people use the word clips. That just makes a lot of people wrong, and lets real shooters know who's a fake.

    6. nope im sorry but anyone that knows their weapon such as police officers, military, competition shooters and gun collectors REFUSE AND WILL NOT EVER call a magazine a clip, and that is because a magazine and a clip are two DIFFERENT things,

    7. Clips and Magazine terms are not interchangeable. Without making it a long discussion and diving into specifics an easy way to define the difference is;

      clips feed magazines. Magazines feed firearms.

    8. my favorite magazines load me with happiness,
      Playboy and Rat Magazine.
      cargadores is used in mexico but loaders not at all on the US, it is impossible to argue with pendejos

    9. 12:04 Then there is the clippings,
      you can make tea from your toe nails and stop your friggin' discussions about every silly little thing

    10. @417 chargadores are chargers, you mean to say you put chargers on rifles, but they do not need to be charged.

    11. 9:00 chargers are those cars from Dodge, now Chrysler, owner of American Motors the corporation created by Mitt Romney's daddy George born in Chihuahua Mexico who was a real conservative and a real man with real honesty.
      --What one word means in one country does not always applies on another as common use, please stop pissing on the soup.

    12. And the police found 5 chargers loaded.

  4. The fat PRI fascist Meade called Nestora Salgado a kidnapper at the second debate. He said AMLO should be ashamed that Nestora is being put forward as pluri for Morena in Guerrero. The former self-defense leader is now planning to sue the fascist Meade for these comments, as they are clearly libelous since she was completely exonerated of all charges when she was released. Morena is also putting up Dr. Mireles as a pluri in Michoacán and AMLO has declared that Padre Solalinde will be placed in charge of Human Rights Protection in his government. :)

    1. AMLO is a retart, he lost to an idiot and yet declared him self president and attempted to have his own inauguration, hes clearly nuts pulling something out like that, poor mexico if he wins, if you think mexico couldnt be more fucked then watch if he wins, he will lead the nation to straight up 3rd world status. Mexico benefits alot from foreign aid, most of the narcos are caught with external help he most likely reject any american or other influence and his administration will not be able to take on powerful cartels alone. But then again presidents are nothing more than just a face for the government and dont really call the main shots, he can win the votes but if the government doesnt want him then he wont win. plus Mexico doesnt even control its own self i wouldnt be surprised if its the american government who decides who rules Mexico

    2. Pos a güebo, El Miado pepe toño, alias "El Rey de Las Tortas" quere ser Presidente, and since he can't bump off AMLO, el Miado is taking on La Comandanta Nestora, who may look smaller fish, but Nestora has more güebos in one chichi than el Miado ever had behind his big fat nalgas de cochina pig ass.

    3. @12:11 a.m. LOL You're exactly right!! Thanks!

  5. It's the cartels farming poppies for the heroin to go North to the good ol U,S if A. They want more territory and they are also good at kidnapping but they do it mostly so people could flee the area and they can gave MORE control

    1. kidnappings are not done to drive people out for control, the people are not a major threat to them. Usually kidnappings are done by local gangs to make money, Cartels dont normaly kidnap for ransom unless their income is extremely limited but if they become that weak to depend on such actions for income then they arent really a cartel anymore, The Zetas are known to do these things but because they where new barely independent and did not yet had a strong trafficking system. If you get kidnapped by a cartel its not to scare all your neighbors, they wont call your family and ask for money, they will kill you to use you as an example to their enemies. If you turn out to be innocent, well the food ol days where innocents arent touch are over and youre mostlt out of luck, they may let you go but most likely youre now a witness and a victim and they rather not risk you calling the cops, also they wont care if ur innocent theyll still pretend ur from a rival cartel still kill u and still put a board directed to their rivals with a message that will make you seem as if you where part od the rival gang just to give the impression that they are killing off the competirion

    2. With so many drones the US has helping Satellites all over Mexico, I wonder how the Mexicans farm poppy fields, in their macetas in their basements, maybe?
      It is a well known fact that Afghanistan is THE SOURCE OF 90% of opiates, but monkey no can see, hear, say, anythin' unpatriotic.
      --Mexican opiates are just about as dangerous and fictitious as the danger Mexican cartels pose to the world owned by the men behind international money laundering banks...but thanks for the propaganda...

    3. The Cartels don't farm poppies, they pay pheasant's to farm de poppies.

  6. The Mexican farmers growing heroine for their poopies could make more money growing stacks of goat droppings, Mexico is mostly a staging area for heroine from other parts of the world, same as for other Chinese goodies, many many other goodies whose transit serve to invade silently and surreptitiously the brother country on the South.
    But China is not the problem,
    the Chinese never even owned "All the Tea in China", still don't...

  7. It takes alot of balls to grab a gun and fight for your community whilst putting your family at risk, best of luck to those men.

  8. Somebodys got to take a stance, sure as hell aint gonna be the govt. At least these people are taking action

  9. Don't be afraid kill, a Cartel member before, he kills you. Shoot to kill, not to wound.


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