MEXICO CITY — Vigilantes who have taken up arms against drug cartel violence and common crime in southern Mexico announced Thursday they will bring charges ranging from organized crime to kidnapping and extortion against 50 men and three women who they have been holding prisoner at improvised jails.
Villagers armed with hunting rifles, old pistols and small-bore shotguns set up armed patrols and roadblocks in the township of Ayutla almost one month ago to defend their communities against crime, saying authorities have failed to bring peace and safety to the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. So far, the state government has tolerated but not formally recognized the self-defense squads.
The growing movement toward self-policing, which has since spread to other towns in Guerrero, has sparked concern among human rights officials.
Villagers in squads of about a dozen patrol roads and search passing motorists, checking their identification against handwritten lists of “bad guys."