Avocado and blackberry producers in southwest Mexico have formed an armed group to keep out cartels.
Farmers and farmhands in Michoacán state were motivated to act by frequent kidnappings and extortion demands.
“It’s cheaper to buy a rifle than to pay extortion,” one member of the group said.
Fed up with being besieged by criminal organizations, avocado and blackberry producers in Michoacán formed their own armed group that is successfully keeping cartel members out of four municipalities.
Some 3,000 farmers and farmhands from Salvador Escalante, Ario de Rosales, Nuevo Urecho and Taretán have taken up arms over the past eight months to defend themselves and their land from attacks by criminal organizations. A spate of kidnappings in the area and frequent demands for extortion money motivated them to act.
Now, according to a report by the newspaper Milenio, an armed private security force — “a parallel authority” — operates in the four neighboring municipalities, located approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Morelia.
“With high-powered weapons, they have shut off access to their communities for drug traffickers and hitmen, choosing who comes in and who doesn’t,” the report said.
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