“MX” for Borderland Beat
The head of Michoacán’s Public Security Department, Israel Patron Reyes, explained that the violence in the region of Tierra Caliente has nothing to do with the “resurgence” of self-defense groups. He said that the uptick in violence was linked to the recruiting and deceiving tactics of the local Los Viagras cartel, which seeks to establish control in the area over the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
Residents from the communities of Pizandaro, Cenobio Moreno, Las Colonias and other surrounding areas have carried out attacks against security forces (both state and federal) because they are being “manipulated” by Los Viagras, who wants authorities to leave the region.
Patron Reyes said that these residents are paid between MXN$300 (about US$15) a day or up to MXN$2,000 (about US$98) per week to throw rocks, block roads, burn vehicles, and organize anti-law enforcement protests.
The people organizing these activities are oftentimes parents and children who live in these communities. The official said the evidence of Los Viagras‘ manipulation is “very strong”.
A woman interviewed for this report said that one of her sons is missing. She claims that they were working as self-defense members in the area and that they were targeted by cartels. However, government officials said they had information that her son was part of Los Blancos de Troya, a cell within Los Viagras.
No self-defense resurgence in Michoacán
Reporter: “So there is no resurgence of self-defense groups in Michoacán? Is this a fight between gangs only?
Patron Reyes: “That is correct. Let’s remember that in 2013, self-defense groups emerged in Michoacán, and some notable figures like Hipolito Mora and Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles became well-known for defending themselves from the Knights Templar Cartel.
“They were fed up with government inaction and of being victims of cartel killings and extortions in their lime and avocado farms, as well as in their wood and mineral production. It is very clear that they were living in a cartel-controlled area.”
“However, that is not the case today. People in Michoacán now have a response from the government. The Mexican Army, the National Guard, the Michoacán State Police, and the State Prosecutor’s Office are permanently in the area all the time”.
Patron Reyes concluded the interview by saying that the collaboration between state and federal authorities was good and there is an ongoing effort to address the problem at hand to attack the problem.
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