Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vigilante Groups Appear in Five Mexican States

State and federal authorities have detected at least a dozen "expressions" of this sort

by Diego Enrique Osorno, Milenio
translated by Kristin Bricker

The rise of the Citizens' Command for Juarez that, with financing from businessmen, promises to "end a criminal's life every 24 hours" is the latest in a series of recent appearances of other alleged armed groups, mainly in Guerrero, Morelos, the State of Mexico, and Sonora.

From the "Popular Anti-Drug Army," which has been hanging banners in various cities in Guerrero and Morelos since November, to the Citizens' Command for Juarez that considers itself to be the "first citizens' pos-revolutionary [sic] movement," federal and state authorities have detected at least a dozen "expressions" of this sort, according to judicial authorities from various federal and state entities that were consulted.

In the case of Chihuahua, at the end of last year, the imminent creation of a parapolice group that would combat organized crime in Ciudad Juarez was made known through guild events and publications. Juarez authorities, faced with assassinations and desertions, have decided to travel to indigenous communities in Oaxaca to beef up their paltry police forces with new recruits.

Yesterday, the president of the Chihuahua Congress' Security Commission, Andreu Rodriguez, responded to the communique issued by the self-proclaimed Citizens' Command. Through a written document sent to Milenio, the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) legislator stated that "this sort of citizens' response was expected. However, this is not the way things should be resolved."

According to the legislator, "Neither the Military nor the federal government, through its police forces, have any room to defend themselves. The same goes for the state and municipal governments. If there isn't a response to the people's complaint, this is going to get bigger. Either they solve the problem or the social breakdown will multiply around the country. Be careful about that."

An official from the Federal Attorney General's office stated that the armed group's communique was part of a narco-terrorism strategy established by one of the many criminal organizations that fight for control of the border city.

Armed Ranchers

Petatlan, in the outskirts of the Guerrero mountain range and the area known as Costa Grande, is the county from which Rogaciano Alba lead the State Ranchers Union for many years before about twenty of the people closest to him were murdered and one of his daughters kidnapped. Operating clandestinely since the middle of last year, the rancher initiated the formation of a group called the "Army that Liberates the People," which has hung banners with messages threatening the region's drug traffickers, as well as praising the Mexican military "for its achievements in the struggle against drug trafficking."

As a result, Rogaciano Alba, who in SIEDO's [SIEDO is the Assistant Attorney General's Office for the Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime] Operation Clean-Up depositions was indicated as an alleged drug trafficker working for Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, has become the leader of a group plainly identified as a paramilitary organization. This group has been credited with various executions, including that of the Iguala [Guerrero] police commissioner "for working for the Beltran Leyva brothers." [1]

In its first message sent out on November 20, Rogaciano's "Army that Liberates" states: "The people of Mexico are called to participate in the war against the drug trade... In Guerrero the Popular Anti-Drug Army was born and we have important cells in other parts of the Republic."

According to official reports, this group operates in Guerrero, Morelos, and the State of Mexico.

Avengers of the People

Another two groups in the same vein have appeared in the same zone over the past couple of months. One is called "The Black Command" and another is called "The Avenger of the People." The latter has hung messages in public places, accusing the ex-leader of the ranchers of directing a drug cartel in Guerrero for years, and for having ordered the assassination of lawyer Digna Ochoa, defender of activists in the region. The appearance of armed groups have been recorded in Oaxaca and Chiapas in regions with organized crime influence.

Investigator Luis Astorga says that after the rise of Los Zetas, criminal groups around the country have changed their traditional operating schemas, disposing of their teams of hitmen in order to begin to form that which the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) specialist calls "paramilitary groups."

Dario Azzellini, an Italian expert in organized crime and particularly that which he calls "the new wars," compared Mexico's situation with Colombia's. "The paramilitary model in Mexico is different from Colombia. In Colombia irregular troops are organized to take over territory, houses, etc. In Mexico paramilitary communities are created. They infiltrate them, they prepare them, and the become paramilitary communities."

Declarations of War

In the middle of this wave of appearances of alleged armed groups, an organization called "Armed Movement of the North" issued an electronic communique in which it declares war against the Mexican government. The missive signed in Sonora manage to catch the attention of the armed forces, according to Milenio commentator Javier Ibarrola.

In contrary to other groups, this message circulated on virtual networks where writings from the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), and the Insurgent People's Revolutionary Army (ERPI) normally appear. In the message, the Armed Movement of the North says it is "an organization of revolutionary character made up of students, professionals, and workers with the objective of defending the sovereignty of the Mexican people against aggressions from foreign capital, imperialism, and the abuses and injustices of the current government. Our fundamental base are social principles and ideas. Born in March 2006, today organized as a Movement of Armed Resistance against the Government due to the necessity of facing our country's current political and economic system in defense of the people."

Translator's notes:

1. There is reportedly a split between El Chapo and the Beltran Leyva brothers, who used to operate a cell of the Sinaloa cartel, which is run by El Chapo, which could explain why a parapolice group associated with El Chapo would attack the Beltran Leyva organization.

From Narco News:


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