In recent months it seems that the vigilante groups of Mexico, which call themselves self defense groups, have been the only effective method for combatting the violent and well-armed drug cartels.
Back in January, the Mexican government announced a plan that would see the groups made more legitimate and bring them under the control of the army. However, as one of the stipulations for that, the groups must turn in their weapons which are illegal under Mexican law and register their other weapons.
However, that idea hasn’t really gone over too well with the self defense groups, who have found success fighting the violent cartels using heavy weapons such as machine guns and grenade launchers. These weapons were likely taken from the cartels themselves.
With very little cooperation over the last few months, the Mexican government has set one final deadline of May 11 for the groups to turn in/register their weapons.
According to Yahoo News,
Vigilante spokesman Estanislao Beltran said the self-defense forces would not turn in their guns by the May deadline, but were open to joining some of the government forces. “Nobody is going to disarm,” Beltran said in a telephone interview.
Vigilante leader Jose Manuel Mireles told local media that under the agreement reached Monday with federal authorities, the vigilantes would turn in their heaviest weapons, like grenade launchers and machine guns, but would keep — but not carry — guns such as assault rifles, though those too are prohibited for civilian use under Mexican law.
Mireles and Beltran said the vigilantes have demanded the release of members arrested earlier for weapons possession, but the government statement said the agreement only promised to transfer those arrested on such charges to a jail closer to their homes in Michoacan. Many are being held at prisons as far away as the Gulf coast.
The Mexican government is concerned that some members of the group might be using the group’s authority for their own, criminal gains.