Thousands of armed vigilantes takeover Mexican town, arrest police and shoot at tourists after ‘commander’ is killed and dumped in the street
- ‘Community police’ arrest former director of security in Tierra Colorado
- They allege he took part in killing of their leader, 28, for criminal cartel
- State prosecutors agree to investigate official’s links to organised crime
- Vigilantes have been stopping traffic at checkpoints and searching homes
- Tourist injured after vigilantes opened fire because he failed to stop his car
- Takeover comes amid growing ‘self defence’ movement against cartels
Thousands of armed vigilantes have taken over a town in Mexico and arrested police officers after their ‘commander’ was killed and dumped in the street.
The self described ‘community police’ and arrested 12 officers and the town’s former director of public security, who they accuse of taking part in the killing of Guadalupe Quinones Carbajal, 28, on behalf of a local organised crime group.
The 1,500-strong force has also set up improvised checkpoints on the major road running through Tierra Colorado, which connects the capital Mexico City to Acapulco, a coastal city popular with tourists less than 40 miles away.
Takeover: A group of around 1,500 armed vigilantes have seized control of Tierra Colorado in Mexico this week
A tourist heading to the beach with relatives for the Easter weekend was injured on Tuesday after the vigilantes opened fire on his car because he refused to stop at a roadblock.
The takeover comes amid a growing movement of ‘self defence’ groups in the region, which claim to be fighting against drug cartels.
The Tierra Colorado vigilantes 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 been handed over to state prosecutors, who agreed to investigate their alleged links to organised crime.
Many of the vigilantes are carrying high-powered assault rifles, which may have been seized from the former security director’s car.
The group’s ‘commander’ Carbajal’s body had been found dumped in the street in a nearby town on Monday.
The force’s spokesman, Bruno Placido Valerio, said: ‘We have besieged the municipality, because here criminals operate with impunity in broad daylight, in view of municipal authorities.
‘We have detained the director of public security because he is involved with criminals and he knows who killed our commander.
The growing vigilante movement in southern and western Mexico has seen masked groups manning checkpoints and searching vehicles for weapons.
They have also been searching for those named on a hand-written list of people suspected of crimes including theft and extortion.
In February, a pair of tourists from Mexico City were wounded on their way to the beach when they were shot at after refusing to stop at one of the roadblocks.
The vigilantes claim they are fighting violence, kidnap and extortion by drug cartels – but there are fears that the groups are violating human rights of those they detain and cooperating with criminals.