Mexico vigilantes tied to drug cartel
MEXICO CITY (AP) – A federal prosecutor in Mexico said Friday that a group of vigilantes in western Mexico appears to have links to the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel.
The vigilantes in the town of Buenavista in western Michoacan state have claimed they are defending the town against the Knights Templar drug cartel.
But Assistant Attorney General Mariana Benitez said at least one of 34 vigilantes detained this week has been the subject of criminal complaints and also has “clear connections” to the Jalisco New Generation drug gang, as do other members of the group.
Soldiers raided the town this week and detained the vigilantes after the group kidnapped local police and seized police vehicles and weapons. Benitez said some of detainees fired shots during the raid.
On Thursday, Assistant Interior Secretary Eduardo Sanchez said the Buenavista vigilantes “are people armed by drug cartel groups that operate in Jalisco, Michoacan and Colima”, referring to two states near Michoacan. That is roughly the area where New Generation operates; the gang is fighting the Michoacan-based Knights Templar.
Soldiers seized 18 assault rifles and 15 pistols, and the detainees will face at least weapons possession charges.
The army raid in the town of Buenavista represents the strongest blow yet against the growing movement of “self-defensce” vigilante groups that has seen masked townspeople throw up checkpoints in several parts of southern and western Mexico.