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Mexican self-defense (courtesy

“The gunmen nabbed watermelon farmer Jesus Manuel Guerrero as he drove from his ranch to buy supplies and held him for five painful days in the trunk of a car,” reports. “When family members finally paid a $120,000 ransom and they released him, he was urinating blood. He’s just one of hundreds of victims of a wave of kidnapping that’s swept this once peaceful farming town, about 130 miles south of Texas. But almost three years after his brutal abduction, Guerrero, who is now the mayor, says his town has become safer, the kidnappers scared to enter.” And why is that, pray tell? “This change is not due to the police, he says, but . . .

to a clandestine vigilante group known as the Pedro Mendez Column, named after a local general who fought the French in the 19th century.

The column hands out leaflets declaring it operates night patrols to defend the community from the feared Zetas cartel, which is behind most of the kidnapping. The vigilantes have also claimed responsibility for several murders of alleged Zeta members, including two men shot dead in January.

“The column only kills kidnappers and drug traffickers. They don’t allow extortion or threaten honest people,” Guerrero told GlobalPost, speaking in his town hall, which is decorated with paintings of Mexico’s independence and revolutionary heroes. “It is much safer with them.”

Even so, NBC wants its readers to know that Mexicans defending their lives against cartel kidnappings, killings, rape, torture, extortion and political corruption could increase violence.

But human rights groups warn that vigilantes may only add to Mexico’s cycle of violence — a severe problem in border states like Tamaulipas, which suffers shoot-outs that have caused temporary shutdowns of crossings into Texas . . .

Some of those vigilantes were deputized as rural state police in May, but others have carried on operating outside the law. Last month, police and soldiers arrested Michoacan vigilante leader Jose Mireles and more than 70 of his supporters for carrying illegal guns.

Gun permits are difficult to get in Mexico, but the country is awash in illegal arms, many smuggled in from the US. The vigilantes favor the same Kalashnikovs and AR-15 rifles as the cartels, which sell on the black market here for several thousand dollars apiece.

“Difficult to get”? That’s like saying it’s difficult for me to get a date with Erin Heatherton. Interestingly, the report [inadvertently] makes the case that gun smuggling to Mexico is helping people defend their lives against cartel violence – a point we’ve been making for years.

As for the Mexican government’s views on the “vigilantes,” what do you expect? The cartels own the Mexican government and police and not a small part of the military. They recently arrested the most prominent auto-defensa leader: Dr. Mireles. So, they pay lip service to self-defense and then let/help the cartels counter-attack, with predictably bloody results.

Federal prosecutors have accused some vigilantes across Mexico of being backed by drug cartels to fight rival gangs.

The Pedro Mendez may be receiving weapons to fight the Zetas from that gang’s enemies in the Gulf Cartel, Guerrero says. But the mayor insists the vigilantes are authentic in defending their community.

While Guerrero says the vigilantes have reduced crime, he says he is not himself a militia member.

The government of President Enrique Peña Nieto has led a shifting and seemingly confused policy on Mexico’s vigilante movement. At times it has ignored them, at others attacked them, and sometimes actively worked with them.

The administration is currently waging an offensive by soldiers and federal police in Tamaulipas to quell cartel violence plaguing the state. In the last two months, troops have arrested ranking gangsters from both the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.

“We are working in a good coordinated way and with good results to win back the tranquility of Tamaulipas,” Mexico’s Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong told the government’s news agency. “All the criminals who have hurt the Mexicans’ tranquility will have to fall.”

See? Now that’s funny. What’s not funny: NBC felt obliged to end their report with this quote:

“I think the self-defense groups [vigilantes] are dangerous,” said Raul Villarreal, a furniture store owner in Victoria who marched against crime. “A shoemaker makes shoes. A businessman does business. You need trained police officers to fight crime, not just anybody with a gun.”

Bullshit, and NBC knows it. The question is, how much support is the U.S. government giving to Mexican government forces and the cartels to maintain the status quo? Fast and Furious III? [h/t mister3d]

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    • Well they can’t use “militia” when talking about ordinary people who group together to successfully protect their own community, think of the message it would send!

      But to be fair there seems to be some extra-judicial murdering going on, so vigilante isn’t that much of a stretch.

  1. Good for them. I would think ANYONE could see this is a good thing. Are we seeing a sea change in Mexico? I dunno but I hope we don’t have an even larger “immigration” on the border. Barry Soetero seems unable & unwilling to intervene…

    • Where do you think the cartel members are going? Certainly not back to where they’re getting shot. More like where they get “three hots and a cot,” and a SNAP card after they’re dropped off in NYC.

  2. “makes the case that gun smuggling to Mexico is helping people defend their lives against cartel violence – a point we’ve been making for years.”

    Really? I’m a regular reader and I haven’t really got that vibe.

    • Sarcastic? I’m not sure how to take that. They’ve been posting “disarmed populace” stories for Mexico for awhile.

      • Yeah, but “smuggled guns help people defend their lives”, I don’t remember reading that angle here. It seems to me the focus has been on the disarmed part, or how F&F led to the death of US agents and countless Mexicans.

        I agree with the concept, after all those militias obviously didn’t get their guns at the one Mexican gun store, but this just seemed like an undeserved self pat on the back.

        Then again maybe I just have a sucky memory.

    • Yes. Especially the notion that armed defense “could make the situation worse.” I’m sure these Mexicans are asking COMO?

      • Reminds me of some wisdom from the late Jeff Cooper:
        “One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that ‘violence begets violence.’ I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.”

  3. Suggest they start doing to the ZETAS the AFRICAN WAY, take a 4″-6″ diameter 10 ft pole, sharpen one end, and impale the SOBS while alive up their backside, then drop the other end in a shallow hole so it stands up, then let em set in the sun, takes a long, really, really painful time to die!

  4. Human rights groups?

    Uh no.

    These groups basically advocate: “Oh Mexican victims please spread your cheeks and let the cartels and government widen your hole thoroughly!”

    Human rights groups…. give me a break. More like, “follow our misguided morals” groups.

    • You might have noticed that said Human Rights Groups avoid anywhere there is a disagreement, and usually operate from such hot spots and danger zones as UN HQ and Zurich.

  5. If its drug-smuggling cartel buddies are being bumped off by the autodefenzas, the CIA must be totally outraged. This is gonna cost the spooks a fortune!

    • You are so right about the CIA. Just go back to the Mina Airport in Ark., when Bill Clinton was Governor. The CIA was flying guns to the Contras and flying dope back here to the U.S. They had a case where two DEA agents went to Canada to bust a private plane that was flying in with a load of Drugs. Right when they went to bust the smugglers after they had landed, they got a call to leave that plane alone. It seems that Nixon’s buddy Robert Vesco financed that shipment. Also there was a Fl. State Trooper in Volusia Co., that keep make drug busts. It seemed that he got a tip on who was running the drugs, tag and car description. The ones he caught were small time drug runners trying to break into the CIA’s drug operation. Try to think up a logical reason for our Justice Department and DEA, with the help of the ATF&E. If it wasn’t for whistle blowers, we would never known what they were up to. Why hasn’t any one went to Prison for it? Surly, there is a signature on the 10 million dollar request to buy the guns. Who authorized it?

  6. Self defense is one thing and great to drive out cartels from the regions. Eventually the cartels would find that easier, unarmed pickings are available elsewhere.

    When the vigilantes start proactively stalking people and imposing their own brand of insta-justice, however, that just replaces one lawless mob with another. Do you seriously think they’ll stop with just the cartels, especially if it’s true, as alleged, that they may already be in bed with one of the cartels? After all, how do you suppose every single tyranny ever to have existed came into existence? It’s always by way of violence outside of any lawful structure, always continues well after the original enemy is vanquished, and always turns on its own people.

    “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” Ernest Hemingway

    • When the vigilantes start proactively stalking people and imposing their own brand of insta-justice, however, that just replaces one lawless mob with another.

      You don’t mean “when,” you mean “if.” As in “if you knew the future, you’d be out buying lottery tickets.”

      • Ahhh……I see the self-appointed counter-cartel militias have inspired a self-appointed grammar policeman here!

        Hmmm…..the thing about that is, if you’re going to shoot your mouth off, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, it’s just you talking out of your ass. Call it a negligent rectal discharge.

        While it is true that “when” can mean “at what time” and implies a certainty, that is its use as an adverb. My use of “when”, however, was as a conjunction and adhered to that function’s definition of “at any time” or “in the event”; which incorporates the contingency element you expect from “if.” The proof? “If” is ALSO a conjunction, with a similar meaning of “in case that” or “granting or supposing that”, which conveys the same contingency aspect.

        Now, Ralph, you’ve had several solid posts lately and I have taken notice. This hamhanded, misguided and mistaken reply today, however, is beneath you. It would have been better had you looked up the word first, to ensure you were on solid footing, rather than post prematurely and appear pedantic and constricted. Better luck next time, my friend, and do try to stay on topic.

  7. Here is a good link to follow what is happening in Mexico since US networks don’t find it newsworthy. Looks the the Federales are following the cartel money and not giving the people help. I’m glad our government can’t be swayed from the fabric of our Constitution (I’m sarcasming YOU Internal Revenue Service)!

    I got the link from a TTAG post.

    • I too got the link from TTAG and have been reading their posts for some months. Really eye-opening stuff.

    • Nothing screams “responsible journalism” quite like Borderland Beat.

      Obviously I am being sarcastic. It’s in English for naive gringo audiences. And many of the writers are members of the cartels, actively spinning tales for there own purposes. Imagine a Mexican version of Faux News, which everyone knows gets their marching orders from GOP campaign headquarters and then crafts the “news” to support those GOP talking points.

  8. From my understanding, these are real militias. Local people defending their neighbors and family.
    There is a chance of corruption, but anyone saying that the cartels are less dangerous is lying to you.

    • Depends on the cartel. The situation in Mexico is too complex for the average Obama-hater to understand, but some of the cartels want a safe and prosperous Mexico … just as long as they are left alone to smuggle their dope or do whatever else it is they are doing to raise money. Much of the violence that you see are one cartel enforcing the “rule of law” against petty criminals in a rival cartel.

  9. I liked the final NBC quote. This guy “marched” against crime. I guess he was walking around “demanding” that crime just stop. Presumably the government was going to answer his appeals or the criminals were going to find a soft spot in their heart. Meanwhile, others were actually doing something about it.

  10. No surprise that the uneducated media can’t tell the difference between militia and vigilantes.
    These groups seem to be more in the tradition of “regulators” from American colonial period composed of citizen volunteers of the frontier who opposed official misconduct and extrajudicially punished banditry.

    It is almost comical that the Mexican government is now asking the regulators in these provinces to be deputized and register or turn in their firearms when they succeed in putting down the criminal gang activity that the government has failed to.

    “Vigilante justice” is rationalized by the idea that adequate legal mechanisms for punishment of particular crimes are either nonexistent or insufficient. Vigilantes typically arise when the government is ineffective in enforcing the law; such individuals justify their actions as a fulfillment of the wishes of the community. The problem is not that they take action, but that in haste they often punish the wrong suspect.when the slower legal process would root out the error.

    I get really tired of sloppy, know nothing journalists.


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