Mexican vigilantes refuse to stand down against drug cartel
Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 01:17
Jan. 16 - Mexican vigilantes in Michoacan reject calls to stand down in fight against powerful cartel, creating a security headache for the government. Michaela Cabrera reports.
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Mexico is fighting to control the state of Michoacan, as vigilantes take it upon themselves to root out a powerful drug cartel.
Vigilantes or so-called self-defence groups have been battling the Knights Templar cartel for a year.
They say the cartel has murdered and extorted locals for years.
The government has called on the vigilantes to put down their weapons and leave the security to authorities.
A farmer turned vigilante leader, Hipolito Mora, rejected calls to disarm.
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LEADER OF SELF-DEFENCE FORCES, HIPOLITO MORA, SAYING:
"They (government) don't want us to keep our weapons, we say that we want to. We can give them an opportunity, that one or two of us go with them to show them the houses of drug traffickers and that's the way they want it. We want to have weapons too."
Analysts have warned that any moves against vigilante groups or attempts to take their weapons by force could spark a larger urban conflict.
The murder rate in Michoacan has spiked as traffickers turned from marijuana plantations to methamphetamine labs hidden in mountains and avocado groves.
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