Mexicans are starting to turn on their cartels...

Most Americans have a soft spot for posses that take up the critical dangerous threats to the locals that the state won't bother about.  We like people who take risks in the name of "protecting the people."  We tell discontents abroad to pick up a rifle.

In cartel-infested Mexico, whose current presidential administration and last presidential administration both made a point of not bothering the cartels much, spontaneous self-defense forces fighting the cartels are suddenly appearing, with the rise of "kill the killers" vigilante groups.  No doubt about it, a Mexican public sick of the cartels has created an opening. 

A new Daily Beast story opened with this:

First he trained and worked as an assassin for Mexico's most powerful crime group; now he uses that training to "clean up" cartel infestations.

And according to the Yucatán Times:

A new study by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission suggests vigilante activity is up by more than 300 percent since the start of 2018, and blames the increase on "insecurity, violence, and impunity."

But several recent reports from the Daily Beast and the Associated Press about the rise of these new vigilante groups to counter Mexico's vile cartels combine to suggest that this, too, is trouble.

The Beast's last report describes the life of one of these vigilantes, and how he gathers meaning in what he claims is protecting the people.

Capache was once a sicario for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which recently eclipsed the Sinaloa Cartel — Chapo Guzman's old outfit — as Mexico's largest criminal syndicate. Then, about two years ago, Capache switched sides to oppose CJNG and its allies. He currently serves with an autodefensa [self-defense] force that has taken the law into its own hands in the name of combating political corruption and organized crime.

...and...

Capache, having undergone a rigorous and bloody training regimen as a CJNG recruit, now uses his paramilitary background, his knowledge of the dark arts of assassination, to strike back against the narcos. He works as a "cleaner" in Chilpancingo, stalking and killing cartel members who, in his words, "prey on society like vampires."

The group the man has joined, with 12,000 members, goes by its Spanish acronym FUPCEG.  The vigilante group apparently kidnapped him from a cartel group he had been in and retrained him to be a fighter of cartels, which he seems to be happy about.  And being in this group has enabled the man, known as Capache, to marry and have kids, quite a rise from his chaotic shantytown childhood as one of ten kids born to a single mom.

Why is this a problem?  Well, for starters, the dynamic, in pretty much every detail, is an exact echo of what happened in Colombia.  First, a mob called "Los Pepes" formed to attack Pablo Escobar and take out his lieutenants, which didn't seem like all that bad a thing, given Escobar's murders.  But they were a problem for the police, who were trying to take him out of circulation, too, same as the country's left-wing judges and corrupt prison guards.

Then, two cartel waves later, the vigilantes appeared again, in what were known as the "paramilitaries," who formed to fight FARC's Marxist narco-terrorists.  I met Colombian displaced people as a journalist in Colombia, and these thugs were just as bad a plague as the narcoterrorists were in the minds of the ordinary people.  People were threatened with creepy phone calls.  People had to flee on dirt roads with sick and elderly family members in tow as a result of their threats, too, winding up in big shantytowns in large cities, which was quite a miserable existence.  When President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002, he made peace with the paramilitaries with some punishment in order to knock them out of the picture with the aim of fighting the true threat, which was FARC.  He got a lot of criticism for it, but he also made significant progress with this compromise strategy, given the sickening mess of overlapping violence he had in front of him.

I checked out the details of FUPCEG from an Associated Press report, and the dynamic appears to be the same.  FUPCEG was fighting other vigilante groups, not just the cartels.  FUPCEG was driving people from their homes, making the locals internal refugees, same as Colombia.  The groups, along with the cartels and the narco-guerrillas, also all claimed to be doing what they do in the name of the people, giving a whiff of political power being the real prize for all of them.  The AP photo report suggested a far nastier dynamic.

The Daily Beast kind of sugarcoated the story of the vigilante in comparison and, worse still, left out the details of how these vigilantes financed themselves.  An earlier report said that the leader of the group, one Salvador Alanis, a man who spent 12 years in North Carolina (probably as an illegal alien), gave this as his motivation

"I spent 12 years working in the U.S.," Alanis says during an interview in the FUPCEG base in the strategically vital town of Filo de Caballos, high in the sierra of central Guerrero. "In the States I came to know a better life, a better world. I came to take safety for granted," he says, "but there's no security like that in Mexico."

Supposedly, he'd sold his farms in order to finance the effort. So either he was rich to start with, or else made so much money in North Carolina he was able to buy these holdings, assuming he didn't somehow steal or extort them from others at the barrel of a gun. 

But the Beast also reported that the vigilantes group was 'not against' dealing drugs, once againm strongly parallelling the recent history in Colombia where the paramilitaries fighting FARC also dealt drugs

"We're here because the people have asked us for support. We came to keep the cartel from killing in this pueblo. We're not against selling coke or other drugs, so long as they don't hurt anybody," he says in that same neutral and affectless voice. "All we want is peace."

Which rather suggests that FUPCEG probably deals drugs, too, kind of negating the noble posse image, and making it one group of bad guys trying to replace another.

I found very little about how they are financed, but it may well be that the vigilantes target the cartels to get hold of their now-amassing money, shaking them down and taking 'their' territory. Cartels make a fat target for the hungry.

And you can bet that the surging illegal alien trade to el norte did a lot to make these cartels rich, and thus, an attractive target to the vigilantes. The border surge has been very good for the cartel coffers.

Does this sound like a good development? It actually sounds like a breakdown of the state, same as happened in Colombia. President Uribe fixed Colombia's disaster by strengthening the power of the state - everything from raising taxes, to requiring two photo ids at checkpoints, to requiring very strenuous proof of income to open a bank account, to enforcing borders. As unlibertarian as it sounds, he had to do it because he was dealing this kind of breakdown. If you don't have borders at all, you don't have a state and a president and his people at the sharp end would understand that extremely well.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador now has the same problem, and according to the reports, says he's going to form a national guard now to counter the vigilantes and cartels. That sounds pretty small potatoes compared to the tangled disaster he's got in front of him now. But, one can wish him well and hope he's got a lot more in mind, because just a few more troops to replace the already ineffective troops of this kind are a sure bet alone to fix Mexico's disaster.

Image credit: YoTut via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

Most Americans have a soft spot for posses that take up the critical dangerous threats to the locals that the state won't bother about.  We like people who take risks in the name of "protecting the people."  We tell discontents abroad to pick up a rifle.

In cartel-infested Mexico, whose current presidential administration and last presidential administration both made a point of not bothering the cartels much, spontaneous self-defense forces fighting the cartels are suddenly appearing, with the rise of "kill the killers" vigilante groups.  No doubt about it, a Mexican public sick of the cartels has created an opening. 

A new Daily Beast story opened with this:

First he trained and worked as an assassin for Mexico's most powerful crime group; now he uses that training to "clean up" cartel infestations.

And according to the Yucatán Times:

A new study by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission suggests vigilante activity is up by more than 300 percent since the start of 2018, and blames the increase on "insecurity, violence, and impunity."

But several recent reports from the Daily Beast and the Associated Press about the rise of these new vigilante groups to counter Mexico's vile cartels combine to suggest that this, too, is trouble.

The Beast's last report describes the life of one of these vigilantes, and how he gathers meaning in what he claims is protecting the people.

Capache was once a sicario for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which recently eclipsed the Sinaloa Cartel — Chapo Guzman's old outfit — as Mexico's largest criminal syndicate. Then, about two years ago, Capache switched sides to oppose CJNG and its allies. He currently serves with an autodefensa [self-defense] force that has taken the law into its own hands in the name of combating political corruption and organized crime.

...and...

Capache, having undergone a rigorous and bloody training regimen as a CJNG recruit, now uses his paramilitary background, his knowledge of the dark arts of assassination, to strike back against the narcos. He works as a "cleaner" in Chilpancingo, stalking and killing cartel members who, in his words, "prey on society like vampires."

The group the man has joined, with 12,000 members, goes by its Spanish acronym FUPCEG.  The vigilante group apparently kidnapped him from a cartel group he had been in and retrained him to be a fighter of cartels, which he seems to be happy about.  And being in this group has enabled the man, known as Capache, to marry and have kids, quite a rise from his chaotic shantytown childhood as one of ten kids born to a single mom.

Why is this a problem?  Well, for starters, the dynamic, in pretty much every detail, is an exact echo of what happened in Colombia.  First, a mob called "Los Pepes" formed to attack Pablo Escobar and take out his lieutenants, which didn't seem like all that bad a thing, given Escobar's murders.  But they were a problem for the police, who were trying to take him out of circulation, too, same as the country's left-wing judges and corrupt prison guards.

Then, two cartel waves later, the vigilantes appeared again, in what were known as the "paramilitaries," who formed to fight FARC's Marxist narco-terrorists.  I met Colombian displaced people as a journalist in Colombia, and these thugs were just as bad a plague as the narcoterrorists were in the minds of the ordinary people.  People were threatened with creepy phone calls.  People had to flee on dirt roads with sick and elderly family members in tow as a result of their threats, too, winding up in big shantytowns in large cities, which was quite a miserable existence.  When President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002, he made peace with the paramilitaries with some punishment in order to knock them out of the picture with the aim of fighting the true threat, which was FARC.  He got a lot of criticism for it, but he also made significant progress with this compromise strategy, given the sickening mess of overlapping violence he had in front of him.

I checked out the details of FUPCEG from an Associated Press report, and the dynamic appears to be the same.  FUPCEG was fighting other vigilante groups, not just the cartels.  FUPCEG was driving people from their homes, making the locals internal refugees, same as Colombia.  The groups, along with the cartels and the narco-guerrillas, also all claimed to be doing what they do in the name of the people, giving a whiff of political power being the real prize for all of them.  The AP photo report suggested a far nastier dynamic.

The Daily Beast kind of sugarcoated the story of the vigilante in comparison and, worse still, left out the details of how these vigilantes financed themselves.  An earlier report said that the leader of the group, one Salvador Alanis, a man who spent 12 years in North Carolina (probably as an illegal alien), gave this as his motivation

"I spent 12 years working in the U.S.," Alanis says during an interview in the FUPCEG base in the strategically vital town of Filo de Caballos, high in the sierra of central Guerrero. "In the States I came to know a better life, a better world. I came to take safety for granted," he says, "but there's no security like that in Mexico."

Supposedly, he'd sold his farms in order to finance the effort. So either he was rich to start with, or else made so much money in North Carolina he was able to buy these holdings, assuming he didn't somehow steal or extort them from others at the barrel of a gun. 

But the Beast also reported that the vigilantes group was 'not against' dealing drugs, once againm strongly parallelling the recent history in Colombia where the paramilitaries fighting FARC also dealt drugs

"We're here because the people have asked us for support. We came to keep the cartel from killing in this pueblo. We're not against selling coke or other drugs, so long as they don't hurt anybody," he says in that same neutral and affectless voice. "All we want is peace."

Which rather suggests that FUPCEG probably deals drugs, too, kind of negating the noble posse image, and making it one group of bad guys trying to replace another.

I found very little about how they are financed, but it may well be that the vigilantes target the cartels to get hold of their now-amassing money, shaking them down and taking 'their' territory. Cartels make a fat target for the hungry.

And you can bet that the surging illegal alien trade to el norte did a lot to make these cartels rich, and thus, an attractive target to the vigilantes. The border surge has been very good for the cartel coffers.

Does this sound like a good development? It actually sounds like a breakdown of the state, same as happened in Colombia. President Uribe fixed Colombia's disaster by strengthening the power of the state - everything from raising taxes, to requiring two photo ids at checkpoints, to requiring very strenuous proof of income to open a bank account, to enforcing borders. As unlibertarian as it sounds, he had to do it because he was dealing this kind of breakdown. If you don't have borders at all, you don't have a state and a president and his people at the sharp end would understand that extremely well.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador now has the same problem, and according to the reports, says he's going to form a national guard now to counter the vigilantes and cartels. That sounds pretty small potatoes compared to the tangled disaster he's got in front of him now. But, one can wish him well and hope he's got a lot more in mind, because just a few more troops to replace the already ineffective troops of this kind are a sure bet alone to fix Mexico's disaster.

Image credit: YoTut via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.