In the face of rising levels of crime in Jalisco there is evidence that self-defense forces have formed in the state capital.
People presumed to be residents of Guadalajara are using social media to recruit new members to vigilante groups to patrol the streets of neighborhoods plagued by crime, such as Jardines Alcalde, the newspaper Reforma reported today.
The attitude of the posts accompanied by the hashtag #YoSoyAutodefensaYaBasta (I’m a Self-Defense Member Enough Already) is one of open defiance and outright aggression.
“We already have 30 members in the self-defense group. It’s time for the criminals to clear off and steal from somewhere else. Whoever comes in, I’m ready and I don’t give a damn if I take a few bullets; I prefer that than them shooting someone in my family,” a presumed member of a self-defense group in Jardines Alcalde wrote.
“If you catch people red-handed, before you take action, send a message so that the others arrive in support to give them a good beating,” another presumed member said.
Other posts offer advice about applying for a firearm permit as well as how to use it and where to practice.
Although some social media users who have commented on the posts see the creation of self-defense groups as a radical measure, the majority defend the move as a last resort, citing the lack of protection provided by official security forces.
The president of a residents’ association in Jardines Alcalde told Reforma that the emergence of self-defense groups in the area is worrying, adding that municipal police are monitoring the situation.
Salvador Quiroz Nuño explained that local residents are fed up with crime and pointed out that while the residents’ group doesn’t support the actions of people who take law enforcement into their own hands, it doesn’t tell them not to.
Another self-defense group reportedly formed in the Alcalde Barranquitas neighborhood at the end of last year, where residents armed themselves with Tasers and pepper spray to ward off intruders.
In addition to high robbery rates, violent crime has also plagued Guadalajara and Jalisco in the first two months of 2018.
There were more than 120 homicides in the state in both January and February and 60 in the first week of March.
Eight bodies were found in an abandoned pickup truck Tuesday in the Guadalajara neighborhood of Morelos. They were among 19 homicides recorded in the state that day.
The next day, Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval made a frank admission about the state’s security situation.
“Complicated days are coming, I won’t lie to you. The wave of violence isn’t going to end . . .” he said.
Sandoval also said that better coordination between police forces and all three levels of government were needed to combat the scourge.
In response to the governor’s comments, army general Fernando Enrique Méndez González told the newspaper Milenio that the army moved quickly to implement measures to counter the increasing levels of crime.
“When he made that declaration, actions were taken in coordination with the federal, state and municipal governments and now we see that what was happening two or three days ago is not happening anymore. It’s already working, a strategy to control this situation is already in place,” he said.
The brigadier general attributed the violence to in-fighting within criminal organizations, adding that ordinary citizens had not been affected.
Méndez González also responded to a claim by the mayor of Zapopan that insinuated that the army only goes into municipalities that are governed by a mayor from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which also rules at state and federal levels.
“The army takes action where there are problems. We don’t have any political preference. For us, our obligation, our commitment is to the entire republic . . .” he asserted.