Eleven of the 42 presumed crime gang members who died in a battle with police near Tanhuato, Michoacán, on May 22 came from a poor neighborhood of the city of Ocotlán. And while no one disputes that some of them might have been a part of the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel, neighbors who paid tribute to them at a makeshift shrine don’t see them as gangsters. They were childhood friends who guarded homes, watched parked cars and kept drunks from disrespecting women.
The people to watch out for, say residents, are the police, who will take things from the corner store without paying, shake you down on your walk home or make your 12-year-old daughter unbutton her shirt. These neighbors are among those who question the official version —that it was a fierce battle between police and criminals — of what happened at the Rancho del Sol. Some of those neighbors say it was a massacre.