MEXICO CITY — At least 35 alleged members of a “self-defense” vigilante group in southern Mexico were reportedly arrested by the military Thursday, underscoring the tension between government authorities and such groups, which have sprouted up in numerous states in recent months.
The members were arrested in the town of Buenavista Tomatlan, in the state of Michoacan, roughly between Mexico City and the Pacific port of Manzanillo, according to reports in the newspapers El Universal and Reforma. [links in Spanish.]
The vigilante groups have sprung up in earnest in various parts of rural Mexico. Members tend to be armed and masked, and allege that the official authorities have not offered citizens sufficient protection against the organized crime groups that not only control the Mexican drug trade, but increasingly extort, kidnap and kill civilians.
According to the reports Thursday, the group, which formed last month, had detained the local police chief, accusing him of having links to organized crime.
El Universal reported that the police chief and five officers who had also been held were freed by the Mexican military, which apparently intends to take over the patrol of the town with the help of the federal police.