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Vigilantes take over Mexican town, arrest police

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Thousands of armed vigilantes have taken over Mexican town Tierra Colorado and have arrested police officers after their "commander" was killed and dumped in the street. The "community police" arrested 12 officers and the town's former director of public security. The vigilantes accuse the officials of taking part in the killing of 28-year-old Guadalupe Quinones Carbajal at the behest of a local organized crime group.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 1,500-strong force has also set up improvised checkpoints on the major road running through the town, which connects the capital Mexico City to the popular vacation destination spot Acapulco.

A tourist heading to the beach with relatives for the Easter weekend was injured this week after the vigilantes opened fire on his car for failing to stop at a roadblock.

This takeover comes amid a growing movement of "self defense" groups in the region, which claim to be fighting against drug cartels. Tierra Colorado is home to around 20,000 people and at least 2,000 civilians are thought to have fled.

The vigilantes here have also been searching people's homes and are reported to have seized drugs from some properties.

The arrested former security official and police officers have since been handed over to state prosecutors. Officials say they agree to investigate their alleged links to organized crime.

The vigilantes here are carrying high-powered assault rifles, which may have been seized from the former security director's car. The group's so-called "commander," Carbajal had been found dumped in the street in a nearby town on Monday.

"We have besieged the municipality, because here criminals operate with impunity in broad daylight, in view of municipal authorities," spokesman Bruno Placido Valerio says.

"We have detained the director of public security because he is involved with criminals and he knows who killed our commander."

The vigilantes are part of regional umbrella group Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State. The union is comprised of residents in Tierra Colorado, as well as neighboring towns such as Ayutla de los Libres, Teconoapa and San Marcos.

The growing vigilante movement in southern and western Mexico has seen masked groups manning checkpoints and searching vehicles for weapons.

The groups claim to be fighting violence, kidnappings and extortions carried out by drug cartels. There are concerns that the vigilantes are violating the law, the human rights of people they detain, or even cooperating with criminals.

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