Friday, January 31, 2014

Mexican A.G.: Jalisco drug cartel armed Michoacán autodefensas

*Updated Feb. 21*
Guadalajara -
Civilian militias in Mexico, the so-called autodefensas, have been accused of being nothing more than armed gunmen in the service of drug cartels since they first appeared on the scene in early 2013. Peña Nieto's drug war czar says no to militias. Yesterday Mexico's attorney general, Jesús Murrillo Karam, suggested that may be true with some of the militias operating in Michoacán, where two violent drug cartels and local autodefensas struggling to maintain law and order have turned the state into an all out war zone in recent months.

The key players are the Jalisco based Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), or Matazetas, and the Michoacán headquartered Los Caballeros Templarios, who currently are focused on dodging up to 20,000 civilian militiamen and thousands of federal troops and police who flooded the state on Jan. 13. The Templarios have long alleged that many of the autodefensas were armed by their opponents, the Matazetas, and there is some evidence to support the claim according to Karam.

"Some of the autodefensas we've detained in Michoacán have bragged about the fact that they got their weapons from CJNG; we have clear evidence of that," the attorney general said. His remarks came a few hours after the number two boss of the Matazetas was captured during an early morning raid by Mexican armed forces in Guadalajara, together with four of his sicarios, or hired executioners.

The issue is one which could end up seriously embarrassing the Peña Nieto administration as well as beleaguered Michoacán governor Fausto Vallejo. On Monday federal and state authorities signed an agreement designed to incorporate autodefensas into public security forces, provided they register themselves and their weapons and meet the qualifications otherwise established for legitimate police officers. But if the Matazetas have already armed some civilian militias in an effort to get a leg up on the Templarios, whom they would love to dislodge, there is little reason to believe they won't continue to do so, albeit with greater discretion. The PRI government told citizens this week that Michoacán is firmly under "control of the federation, not criminals," but the reconstituted civilian police forces could end up being just as corrupt as the ones they replaced. Michoacán is the PRI president's headache that won't end. Fiasco in Michoacán (May 23, 2013).

In a statement today, the leader of one Michoacán community militias denied Karam's claims.

Feb. 2 - In an interview with the respected news site, an expert in Mexico's drug war argues that at least in Michoacán, the evidence is clear that citizen militias have been armed by cartels which want Los Caballeros Templarios eliminated from the playing field. He contends that the government is taking a grave risk if it permits the autodefensas to proliferate or merge into legitimate public security forces, and will be advancing the cause of the Templarios' competitors by doing so.

Jan. 26 - 20 Michoacán police officers charged as "Zeta killers"
Feb. 15 - Mexico able to deliver security "only in certain zones"

Feb. 21 - The power vacuum in Michoacán is being filled by CJNG. As the Templarios are forced into hiding by federal troops and autodefensas, and others flee the state altogether, the Matazetas are showing up in former Templario strongholds, pursing the same line of business - narcotics trafficking coupled with commercial extortion targeted at local businessmen.

Mar. 11 - Mexico arrests key community militia leader in Michoacán, for suspicion of murder

2013 violence in Michoacán
Oct. 28 - Cartel attacks power plants, gasoline stations in violent Michoacán
Aug. 25 - Civilian militias soar, with citizen police now patrolling 50 counties in 13 Mexican states
July 28 - Mexican vice admiral killed in further Michoacán violence
July 25 - Federals will remain in Michoacán, promises Peña Nieto
July 24 - Mexican army units fortify Jalisco-Michoacán border
July 23 - Michoacán erupts; 22 dead as regional violence escalates
Apr. 11 - Mexico's troublesome policías comunitarias will prompt some to argue failed state theories

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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