Citizens have banded together to form their own police force in a community in Ajuchitlán del Progreso, Guerrero, in response to increasing violence and the belief that authorities are doing nothing to stop it.
The municipality is one of five where security measure have been reinforced after last weekend’s wave of violence, described as the worst the state has seen this year.
But that was not enough for residents of San Jerónimo el Grande, who have decided to take matters into their own hands by creating a community police force to defend themselves against crimes such as the mass kidnapping that took place there a week ago.
Carrying .22-caliber rifles, shotguns and pistols, a procession of men, accompanied by some minors and women, marched to the small town’s center, where they warned that they would protect the community of just over 1,000 inhabitants from the criminal gang led by “El Tequilero.”
Residents blame the gang for kidnappings and extortion suffered not only in their town but Arcelia, San Miguel Totolapan and the municipal seat city of Ajuchitlán as well.
“The people of San Jerónimo el Grande are tired of all the violence caused by the criminal group called Los Tequileros,” read a sign at a sports court in the center of town.
“We ask the government to act because the people will rise up in arms, and we demand that our brothers be released. Enough!” the sign concluded.
The newly formed militia posted a video on social media in which it denounced the government for not responding. “It’s doing nothing. They come and parade about town, but do nothing in the end. We even suspect they might be in collusion [with the gang].”
Between 10 and 14 were kidnapped last week, of whom two were reportedly minors. Three have since been released.
While a spokesman for the Guerrero Coordination Group, a security agency, stated that official forces had liberated the three victims, the people of San Jerónimo claim they escaped on their own.
The self-defense group has announced that it will soon mount checkpoints to control who enters and leaves their town.
In the neighboring municipality of Teloloapan, another self-defense group occupied municipal headquarters this week, demanding that the Federal Police and the Army be tasked with security activities in the region.
It was in Teloloapan that three metal workers whose dismembered bodies were found in plastic bags on the weekend had been kidnapped.
The protesters also blocked the entrances of several commercial centers, and threatened to increase their blockades if their demands regarding security weren’t met. They have also demanded an investigation of Arcelia Mayor Adolfo Torrales for alleged links to the Tequileros gang.
Source: El Universal (sp)